A judge sanctioned six lawyers representing the owners of the Ringling Bros. circus and ordered them to pay $51,000 in fines to the animal-rights group PETA for contempt of court and other violations.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued Vienna, Va.-based Feld Entertainment, which produces the circus, more than four years ago, claiming Feld ran an extensive corporate espionage campaign against it. PETA alleged Feld paid millions of dollars to a former top CIA operative to help run its spy operation.