05/18/2024

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‘Gravity’ of John Eastman’s ‘transgressions’ and ‘threat to the public’ prevent him from practicing law after disbarment recommendation, judge says

Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz (left), (right) attorney John Eastman, the architect of a legal strategy aimed at keeping former President Donald Trump in power (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong).

The California judge who issued John Eastman’s disbarment recommendation has denied the retired law professor a reprieve in the form of a stay that would have allowed him to pay off his mounting legal bills by practicing law.

The brief Wednesday order from State Bar Court Judge Yvette D. Roland, citing the “gravity of Eastman’s transgressions, particularly those involving moral turpitude, and the increased likelihood of future misconduct due to his refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing,” declined to pause the Jan. 6 “coup memo” author’s “mandatory” inactive enrollment as Eastman appeals Roland’s determination he violated 10 of the 11 attorney misconduct counts he faced.

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    For Roland, Eastman pointing to his clients’ desire that he continue representing them fell far short of making a “good cause” showing in support of the stay.

    “Eastman avers that the charges against him are not based on client complaints. He has provided declarations from his current clients who express a strong desire for him to continue representing them in their ongoing matters,” Roland said. “However, the court made no finding that Eastman’s ethical violations resulted in client harm. Instead, the court found that disbarment was the appropriate sanction for Eastman’s misconduct in part to safeguard the public.”

    The judge said that Eastman’s “deceptive and misleading claims in legal documents” that then Vice President Mike Pence had the power to unilaterally overturn the election on Jan. 6 formed the basis of the disbarment recommendation, not harm to his clients.

    Even though clients like Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., would like Eastman to continue lawyering for them, Roland continued, Eastman crucially failed to show that “he no longer presents a threat to the public.”

    In a footnote, Roland added that she was “not persuaded” that Eastman’s clients “will suffer prejudice” by his ineligibility to practice law, as they have other lawyers who can represent them.

    More Law&Crime: State bar uses John Eastman’s ‘stunningly deficient’ Gaetz and MTG ‘conspiracy theory’ against him after judge’s disbarment recommendation

    “According to Eastman’s own declaration, he informed each of his clients about the possibility that he might be unable to continue as their counsel,” the footnote said. “Moreover, in each case, Eastman has co-counsel who can assume representation of these clients.”

    Eastman had argued that his inactive enrollment should remain on hold until his appeal of the disbarment recommendation runs its course, asserting that he needs to continue working as a lawyer in order to pay off legal bills stemming from the Georgia RICO case and any other ongoing matters.

    But the State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel opposed that request, writing that Eastman’s “stunningly deficient” lawyering on behalf of Gaetz and Greene in a California federal lawsuit showed that he was not entitled to a stay of inactive enrollment.

    “[T]hat respondent’s current clients want his continued representation does nothing to establish that there is no risk of harm from respondent’s continued handling of cases on behalf of those clients,” the office said. “Indeed, a recent ruling in a case in which respondent represents some of those clients who desire his continued representation demonstrates the risks.”

    Read the three-page order here.

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    The post ‘Gravity’ of John Eastman’s ‘transgressions’ and ‘threat to the public’ prevent him from practicing law after disbarment recommendation, judge says first appeared on Law & Crime.