Ex-Trump lawyer Eastman, California bar clash over law license status

April 11 (Reuters) – California state bar prosecutors have asked a judge to reject a bid by John Eastman, a former lawyer for Donald Trump, to restore his ability to practice law as the state’s ethics case against him moves forward.

Eastman was recommended for disbarment last month after a judge found his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election on Trump’s behalf violated attorney conduct rules. That decision by State Bar Court Judge Yvette Roland automatically deactivated Eastman’s law license until the California Supreme Court decides whether to adopt or reject the recommendation.

Eastman last week urged Roland to pause the impact of her order on his license, calling it “highly prejudicial.” He argued that he needs the income from his legal practice to maintain his own legal defense in Fulton County, Georgia, where he is fighting criminal charges over his efforts to reverse Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election win in the state.

California bar prosecutors pushed back in a Wednesday filing, opens new tab, arguing there is no exception to the rule that “involuntary inactive enrollment is mandatory following a disbarment recommendation,” despite Eastman’s pending appeal in the ethics case.

A lawyer for Eastman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A state bar spokesperson declined to comment.

Eastman, who has pleaded not guilty in the Georgia case and defended his conduct as an attorney, said in his filing last week that he has incurred more than $1 million in criminal defense costs, and expects to pay more than $3 million before that case ends.

State bar prosecutors said Roland’s ruling recommending Eastman’s disbarment showed that the former Trump lawyer has “demonstrated a willingness to misrepresent facts, violate the law, and pursue frivolous claims on behalf of clients.”

A former law professor at Chapman University in California, Eastman drafted legal memos suggesting then-Vice President Mike Pence could refuse to accept electoral votes from several swing states when Congress convened to certify the 2020 vote count. Pence rebuffed his arguments, saying he did not have legal authority to do so under the Constitution.

Trump was also represented by Eastman in a long-shot lawsuit at the U.S. Supreme Court that sought to invalidate votes in four states where the Republican former president had falsely claimed evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Click here to read the full article in Reuters

Trump lawyer John Eastman certainly should be disbarred

He used his law license to provide cover for an illegal scheme to overthrow the 2020 election.

Susan Walsh Associated Press

When lawyerslose their licenses to practice law, it’s typically because they mistreated their clients. Perhaps they improperly spent the client’s money to pay off personal bills, rather than to hire investigators or experts, or otherwise work on the case. Maybe they regularly failed to meet deadlines for filing court papers, or just weren’t sufficiently zealous in representing their clients’ interests.

The State Bar of California’s case against attorney and legal scholar John C. Eastman was quite different.

Eastman was zealous, and then some, in crafting legal arguments and strategies that attempted to justify the disproven claims of his client — Donald Trump — that he was cheated out of reelection in 2020, and that Vice President Mike Pence had superpowers to accept or reject state election results involving Trump’s candidacy, and his own.

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Only rarely do licensing authorities discipline lawyers for going overboard on their clients’ behalf, and for good reason. Lawyers should have leeway to try a range of arguments and legal theories, and should not be sanctioned for being novel or even audacious in advocating for their clients. They should not be punished for arguing theories not currently in vogue. They are protected by the 1st Amendment.

Up to a point.

A lawyer’s duty, crucially, extends beyond the client. Attorneys are officers of the court, and key figures in a system whose purpose is to determine the truth, apply the law and achieve justice. California lawyers take an oath to support the Constitution and to conduct themselves with integrity.

State Bar Court judge on Wednesday ruled — appropriately and wisely — that in providing legal cover for Trump’s dishonest bid to subvert the 2020 election, Eastman violated his oath, undermined the quest for truth and justice, and inflicted serious and perhaps lasting damage on the very institutions of democracy and law that are the foundation of his profession.

Notwithstanding Eastman’s reputation as a legal scholar and former dean of Chapman Law School in Orange — and as a 2010 candidate for California attorney general — Judge Yvette Roland recommended that he be permanently disbarred.

The final decision is up to the state Supreme Court.

It would best serve California, the legal profession and election integrity for the court to follow Roland’s recommendation. Eastman’s conduct was egregious. As Trump was selling his election fraud fairy tale to the public, and after states’ election officials certified slates of electors, state and federal courts rejected suits to overturn the certifications and state legislatures rejected challenges, Eastman wrote two memos mapping out plans for Pence to ignore all of those actions on Jan. 6, 2021.

In the words of the State Bar’s trial counsel, Eastman demonstrated that he knew his role as Trump’s lawyer “was not to provide good faith advocacy, but to fabricate an illusion of legality to an illegal effort to delay the formal recognition of Trump’s obvious defeat by any means possible.”

He used his law license to provide cover for an illegal scheme. He counseled Pence to break the law. He made, or stood behind, statements that he almost certainly knew to be false, such as an argument by Texas officials in its lawsuit to undermine the election that the probability of Biden actually winning in four states — given Trump’s lead in early election night counting — were “less than one in a quadrillion to the fourth power.” His legal arguments were specious.

Roland cited the example of Donald Segretti, a California lawyer who became infamous during the Watergate scandal amid President Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign. Segretti’s misconduct was child’s play in comparison with Eastman’s. He faked letters to stir chaos among Democratic candidates. His dirty tricks had nothing to do with his being a lawyer, yet he was suspended from law practice for two years for failing to uphold the ethical standards of the legal profession.

Eastman’s actions were infinitely worse and require much tougher sanctions. He didn’t merely lie in an attempt to change voters’ minds. He actively tried to disenfranchise voters who had already cast their ballots, in what Roland called “an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Judge says ex-Trump attorney, Chapman Law dean John Eastman should be disbarred in California

Column: The lawyer who advised the former president in his fight to overturn the 2020 election cannot practice during his appeal

When he spread wild untruths about the 2020 election and tried to stretch the law like Silly Putty to keep Donald Trump in power, John Eastman betrayed the fundamental oaths he swore to uphold as a licensed attorney — and thus must lose that license, a State Bar judge ruled Wednesday, March 27.

“Despite the depth, breadth, and complexity of the case law and historical context cited by the parties, this disciplinary proceeding boils down to an analysis of whether or not Eastman, in his role as the attorney for then-President Donald Trump … and his re-election campaign, acted dishonestly,” State Bar Judge Yvette Roland said.

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He did, she said. “It is recommended that John Charles Eastman, State Bar Number 193726, be disbarred from the practice of law in California and that his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys.”

Eastman, the former dean of Chapman University’s law school who also was hit with $10,000 in sanctions and ordered to cover the Bar prosecution’s costs, called the decision “a travesty of justice.” He vowed to appeal and has characterized those seeking to discipline him as evil.

“Dr. Eastman maintains that his handling of the legal issues he was asked to assess after the November 2020 election was based on reliable legal precedent, prior presidential elections, research of constitutional text, and extensive scholarly material,” his attorney, Randall Miller, said in a statement.

“The process undertaken by Dr. Eastman in 2020 is the same process taken by lawyers every day and everywhere – indeed, that is the essence of what lawyers do. They are ethically bound to be zealous advocates for their clients – a duty Dr. Eastman holds inviolate. To the extent today’s decision curtails that principle, we are confident the Review Court will swiftly provide a remedy.”

The decision could be crippling to his livelihood – and potent fodder for fundraising. Eastman cannot practice law in California during the appeal, which strangles an income stream as he fights criminal charges in Georgia over 2020 election interference and potential disbarment in Washington D.C. It will cost more than $3 million to defend himself, he has said in fundraising pitches, but he has only raised shy of $640,000 in donations on the Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo.

“I feel a little like Julius Caesar,” Eastman said in a recent lecture to the Salt and Light Council, which promotes “Biblical citizenship.” “The folks we’re dealing with are evil. They don’t consider destroying our country as collateral damage for their overall mission. They consider that icing on the cake for their overall mission. I mean, we have to understand that we are dealing with pure evil, and … you got to arm yourselves in truth and light, salt and light.”

Overthrowing democracy?

In what has become known as the “coup memos,” Eastman argued that the Electoral Count Act was unconstitutional and the vice president had the authority to reject states’ official electoral votes and even declare Donald Trump, who lost the election, its winner. Trump seized on these ideas and did not let go.

On stage Jan. 6, Eastman alleged that dead people voted, that blank ballots were hidden in a “secret folder” inside voting machines and that the election had been stolen. As rioters stormed the Capitol, Vice President Mike Pence’s rattled attorney told Eastman that “the advice provided has, whether intended to or not, functioned as a serpent in the ear of the President of the United States, the most powerful office in the entire world…. Thanks to your (expletive), we are now under siege.”

Eastman was charged with 11 counts by the California State Bar prosecutor’s office, one of which was dismissed, the most colorful of which are “dishonesty and moral turpitude.” He’s accused of prodding state electors to send fake electoral votes for Trump to the Capitol, of filing false information with courts, of spreading incendiary lies that fed the rage that consumed the Capitol.

Eastman has wrapped himself in the First Amendment, saying his utterings are a matter of protected free speech.

Eastman’s defenders argue he was simply doing his job, zealously advocating for his client with the legal equivalent of “everything but the kitchen sink.” He has decried the charges as Orwellian “lawfare” waged by radical left-wingers seeking to destroy the fabric of America. “(T)he government has spoken, and if you disagree, then you must be lying. Two plus two equals five, after all, and if the government says so, you must not only repeat the lie, but you must come to believe it as well,” his lawyers told the judge in closing arguments.

The judge didn’t buy that. “While attorneys have a duty to advocate zealously for their clients, they must do so within the bounds of ethical and legal constraints,” she wrote. “Eastman’s actions transgressed those ethical limits by advocating, participating in and pursuing a strategy to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election that lacked evidentiary or legal support. Vigorous advocacy does not absolve Eastman of his professional responsibilities around honesty and upholding the rule of law.”

In a recent post on GiveSendGo, Eastman described the Bar proceedings as shot through with “mendacity.” He blasted Bar prosecutors for assigning a court opinion to a circuit court rather than a district court. He quarreled with the accuracy of a legal quotation. “Perhaps they should file notice of disciplinary charges against themselves!” he wrote. “Alas, don’t hold your breath for such a just result…. win or lose, we anticipate more proceedings on appeal, adding to what one commentator has already called the longest and most expensive bar disciplinary proceeding in history.

“Thankfully, people are starting to wake up to the dangers of this ‘lawfare,’ not just to me personally but to our adversarial system of justice more broadly,” he wrote. “If you can, please consider making an additional contribution to my legal defense fund to help me keep fighting these travesties of justice. And as always, keep us, and our great country, in your prayers.”

Strong reaction

The state Bar was pleased with the outcome.

“Every California attorney has the duty to uphold the constitution and the rule of law,” Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona said in a prepared statement. “Mr. Eastman repeatedly violated that duty. Worse, he did so in a way that threatened the fundamental principles of our democracy.

“The substantial evidence presented over 35 days of trial showed, and the court has now held, that Mr. Eastman abandoned his ethical and legal duties as an attorney to conspire with then-President Donald Trump to develop and implement a strategy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021, and illegally disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joseph Biden, knowing that there was no good faith theory or argument to lawfully reject the electoral votes of any state or delay the January 6 electoral count. Mr. Eastman’s efforts failed only because our democratic institutions and those committed to upholding them held strong. The harm caused by Mr. Eastman’s abandonment of his duties as a lawyer, and the threat his actions posed to our democracy, more than warrant his disbarment.”

Laguna Niguel attorney James V. Lacy has known Eastman for years and followed the proceedings closely.

“This is a sad and wholly avoidable negative milestone in Eastman’s legal career,” Lacy said. “He could have avoided ‘being the snake in Trump’s ear’ by simply coming to the same, sane, legal conclusion as his own star witness John Yoo did during the trial, that the Vice President just does not have the power to overthrow an election.

“He also could have avoided this outcome and all the effort and expense, and building of a factual record that will now be used against him in his Georgia criminal trial, by simply resigning his bar membership in the very beginning, as this result of the process was predictable over a year ago.

“I do pity John and hope for his sake he fares better in the other upcoming actions against him.”

The States United Democracy Center filed an early ethics complaint against Eastman with the State Bar. “This is a crucial victory in the effort to hold accountable those who tried to overturn the 2020 election,” said Christine P. Sun, a senior vice president, in a prepared statement. “This decision sends an unmistakable message: No one is above the law—not presidents, and not their lawyers.”

Miller, Eastman’s attorney, disagrees. Eastman faces “serious and complex criminal charges in an unprecedented criminal RICO action in Fulton County, Georgia, where one of his co-defendants is the former President of the United States and presumptive Republican nominee for re-election to that office. He has not been convicted of any crime and in the eyes of the law he is presumed innocent.

“Dr. Eastman remains adamant that in his case, that presumption is absolutely correct,” Miller said. “Any reasonable person can see the inherent unfairness of prohibiting a presumed-innocent defendant from being able to earn the funds needed to pay for the enormous expenses required to defend himself, in the profession in which he has long been licensed. That is not justice and serves no legitimate purpose to protect the public.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Former Chapman Law dean John Eastman appeals for more money as license is threatened

Column: The former president’s former lawyer has been watching the Georgia soap opera closely

As the soap opera in Georgia rivets the nation, the deadline for a California Bar judge to rule on John Eastman’s law license — can he keep it and earn money to fight those criminal charges in Georgia, or will he be disbarred for trying to overthrow democracy? — was supposed to be February’s end.

But decision day has been pushed back a month or so.

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Turns out the State Bar’s prosecutor incorrectly cited a court case in a filing and asked to fix it. Attorneys for Eastman, the former dean of Chapman Law School, responded with a long list of other things they consider to be factually incorrect in the prosecutor’s filings. So now Judge Yvette Roland’s decision will be due by March 27, a State Bar spokesperson said by email.

Eastman has been charged with 11 counts by the State Bar, the most colorful of which are “dishonesty and moral turpitude.” He’s accused of prodding state electors to send fake electoral votes for Trump to the Capitol, of filing false information with courts, of spreading incendiary lies that fed the rage that consumed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and cost several people their lives.

Meantime, the former dean is keeping an eagle eye on the drama in the Peach State — seeing, perhaps, a way out — and pushing for more contributions to cover millions in legal bills.

“The sixty four dollar question many people are asking is whether Fulton County (Georgia) District Attorney Fani Willis and her (apparently former) boyfriend will be removed from prosecuting President Trump, me and some 17 other defendants on ridiculous, politically-motivated charges,” Eastman wrote in an essay published Wednesday, Feb. 21, on City News OKC’s website.

“The answer, according to numerous legal experts is: they sure should be. Judge Scott McAfee’s hearing last week turned into a must-watch TV drama. It reminded me of watching O.J. Simpson driving his white Bronco on a Los Angeles freeway back in the day with TV helicopters hovering above and police cars behind. You just couldn’t turn away, wondering how things would end….

“I obviously am much more than just an interested observer in this legal drama. The two people at its center are seeking to ruin my life, destroy my reputation and put me in prison simply because I lawfully gave President Trump legal advice on questioning the integrity of the 2020 election.”

Willis’ Georgia grand jury indicted Eastman, Trump and others on racketeering and other charges, saying they aimed to disenfranchise Georgia voters.

The former president’s former lawyer has bemoaned the “surreal, exhausting battle to defend my integrity” in fundraising emails, pinning the price tag for his legal defense at some $3 million to $3.5 million. He faces “an onslaught of false charges leveled by radical leftwing lawyers working with lawfare groups. Tragically, many of these false charges were repeated nearly word-for-word by State Bar prosecutors and form the basis of the Bar’s prosecution against me,” he told potential contributors.

Eastman’s GiveSendGo account has hit $628,000, with more than $10,000 in small donations pouring in over the past month. A donor recently kicked in $1,000, saying, “I remain appalled that the California Bar is persecuting you for zealously representing your client. How could the ethics authorities be so unethical?”

Eastman is categorically innocent of all the charges against him, Eastman has said, and is doing everything in his power to defend himself and expose the truth.

“The unprecedented ferocity and extent of the various lawfare attacks against me have been grueling,” he wrote on CityNewsOKC. “I am fighting this lawfare assault vigorously but I’m going to need to raise over $3 million to contend with the totality of the assault being waged against me.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Former Chapman law dean John Eastman pushes for big money to help defense

Column: The ex-Trump lawyer is trying to boost his legal defense fund. Fact-checking conservative O.C. attorney rips into his take on reality

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Screenshot of John Eastman’s GiveSendGo fundraising site

John Eastman bemoaned the “surreal, exhausting battle to defend my integrity” in a recent fundraising email, pinning the price tag for his legal defense at some $3 million to $3.5 million and politely pleading for donations.

The erstwhile dean of Chapman Law — who faces criminal charges in Georgia for trying to overturn former President Donald Trump’s election defeat, and the potential loss of his law license in California — said he faces “an onslaught of false charges leveled by radical leftwing lawyers working with lawfare groups. Tragically, many of these false charges were repeated nearly word-for-word by State Bar prosecutors and form the basis of the Bar’s prosecution against me.”

Eastman’s GiveSendGo account — whose fundraising goal creeps ever higher — has surpassed $615,000, but is nowhere near enough. “Though I have been blessed with over half a million in donations to my legal defense fund, I have already incurred legal costs of three times that amount,” his email says. “I urgently need your help to move forward with my defense.”

The pitch goes on to make factual claims that, at best, raise a few eyebrows. For a fast fact-check we turn to “Eastman Claims vs. Reality,” an entertaining, if stinging, analysis by Laguna Niguel attorney James V. Lacy.

We’ll remind you here that Lacy is no leftwing radical engaged in “lawfare,” but a bona fide conservative who served in the Reagan and Bush administrations, and as a Trump delegate in 2016. Lacy maintains that Trump would have been much better off if he never met Eastman.

‘Claims v. Reality’

Says Eastman: “This has been a surreal, exhausting battle to defend my integrity and legal actions from an onslaught of false charges leveled by radical leftwing lawyers working with lawfare groups.”

Says Lacy: “Are the charges false? The facts charged are based on his own actions, like calling Georgia legislators and trying to arrange for fake electors. They include conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer. Two counts of conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree. Two counts of conspiracy to commit false statements and writings. Conspiracy to commit filing false documents.

“And… are they leveled by ‘radical leftwing lawyers?’ No, plenty of right-wing lawyers are leveling the charges, including the former Reagan White House Counsel and Appellate Judge John worked for, J. Michael Luttig, and Vice President (Mike) Pence’s counsel Greg Jacob, who went to the same law school as John.”

Says Eastman: “My legal team has demolished the State Bar’s claim that there was no evidence of fraud or illegality in the 2020 elections….our team did a magnificent job and made a clear and compelling case that my representation of President Trump had a strong factual basis as well as a compelling legal basis under the law and constitution.”

Says Lacy: “This is total baloney. Eastman was never able to establish meaningful proof of fraud or illegality. To the extent there was ‘illegality’ it had to do with empowering voters during a pandemic. The law favors voting. There has never been any finding anywhere of meaningful election fraud or illegality. Eastman’s ‘experts’ at the trial almost to the person did not qualify as experts, and his top Constitutional expert John Yoo actually testified he did not agree with Eastman’s interpretation of the Constitution and that Biden won the election ‘fair and square.’”

Says Eastman: “Our team put on a wide array of credible witnesses that, for the first time, laid bare in a courtroom many of the illegal and fraudulent activities that occurred in critical states such as Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania.”

Says Lacy: “As above, most of the witnesses were not qualified as experts because they were not. Former California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown was not qualified as an expert and her testimony was basically she did not know him too well, met him a couple times a year at legal conferences, and had a good impression of his scholarship. Nothing about election fraud.”

Says Eastman: “I had the courage to assist President Trump bring lawful, substantive allegations of election illegality before courts and appropriate elections officials pales in comparison to what we still face.”

Says Lacy: “He lost everywhere.”

‘Big lie’

Eastman’s big lie is in the first sentence of his first, infamous, two-page memo, Lacy said: “Seven states have transmitted dual slates of electors to the president of the Senate.”

“It was not true. There were not dual slates of electors in any legal sense,” Lacy said.

“Fake elector facts: The fake certificates were created by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico, who sought to replace valid presidential electors from their states with a pro-Trump slate, according to documents obtained by American Oversight.

“They sent these fake certificates after Trump himself failed to block governors from signing the real certificates. Specifically, Trump encouraged Republican governors in states like Georgia and Arizona not to certify the election results, and falsely claimed the elections were fraudulent. But these GOP officials ignored Trump, followed the law and awarded the electors to Biden.”

Lacy reminds us of the words of former Marine and current U.S. District Judge David O. Carter (“Based on the evidence, the court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021″ and “Dr. Eastman likely acted deceitfully and dishonestly each time he pushed an outcome-driven plan that he knew was unsupported by the law”).

Eastman faces a slew of criminal charges in Georgia, including violating the state’s RICO Act, filing false documents, soliciting a public officer to violate the oath of office and other criminal conspiracies. He has pleaded not guilty.

He awaits a decision on charges of “dishonesty and moral turpitude” from a California State Bar judge, which may well cost him his law license. Eastman has indicated he’ll appeal an unfavorable decision to the California Supreme Court and possibly beyond, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Which, of course, would cost more money.

‘$3 million+’

“As difficult as these past months have been, it’s clear to me that what my family and I have endured thus far because I had the courage to assist President Trump bring lawful, substantive allegations of election illegality before courts and appropriate elections officials pales in comparison to what we still face,” Eastman’s email says.

“If the State Bar judge rules against me and recommends that I be disbarred, I have the right to appeal but my law license will be suspended in the process. This will cripple my ability to earn a living doing what I have loved and excelled at for decades. Meanwhile, I face a highly-partisan prosecutor in Georgia who is determined to put me in prison for years to come….

“They are trying to completely destroy me. I am categorically innocent of all the charges against me and I am doing everything in my power to defend myself and expose the truth.”

Eastman said he’s $1 million in the hole, on top of what the legal defense fund has covered, and needs another $1 million by February to defend himself in Georgia.

“My wife and I have worked hard all our lives to earn a middle-class living for our family. We have no way to handle the $3 million+ in legal expenses that this lawfare assault will cost. We’re completely dependent on the generosity of people of good will like you to help,” it says.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

A romp through ex-Trump attorney John Eastman’s Hail Mary pass to save law license

Column: As his livelihood hangs in the balance, former Chapman law dean wraps himself in the First Amendment

“Orwellian,” attorneys for John Eastman said of the state bar’s case against him.

“(T)he government has spoken, and if you disagree, then you must be lying. Two plus two equals five, after all, and if the government says so, you must not only repeat the lie, but you must come to believe it as well.”

Attorneys for the California Bar paint a similarly dystopian portrait of Eastman.

The former dean of Chapman Law School “engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing in an effort to keep his client, (President Donald) Trump, in power despite having lost the 2020 election,” they wrote in closing arguments.

“In doing so, (Eastman) contributed to the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, eroded without basis public trust in our government institutions and officials, and sought to disenfranchise millions of voters. (He) remains brazenly remorseless … and has made clear that he would continue to engage in the same misconduct if allowed. The only appropriate outcome is disbarment.”

Nearly 200 pages of forcefully erudite closing arguments were submitted to State Bar Court Judge Yvette Roland on Friday, Dec. 1. She has until March to decide if Eastman will be allowed to continue practicing law in California.

It’s not looking especially great for Eastman: The judge has already issued a preliminary ruling finding him culpable in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

If things don’t go his way, he could appeal her decision to an appellate level of review. If still not satisfied, he could take it to the California Supreme Court. If he doesn’t prevail there, he has indicated he might try to take it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I continue to be overwhelmed with the prayers, kind notes of encouragement, and financial support that we receive on a daily basis,” Eastman wrote to supporters on his fundraising page Nov. 27, the day before Giving Tuesday.

“As you can see, we continue to fight to expose the truth. But the fight is costly. … Please consider making an additional donation at https://www.givesendgo.com/Eastman to help us keep up the fight. “

Eastman seeks $750,000 to help pay his legal bills, which he has estimated will cost some $3 million. People have donated $586,712 as of Tuesday, Dec. 5. The messages they post there often use the language of holy war. 

“God has clearly appointed and anointed you for this task,” said an anonymous $25 donor last week. “God will surely bless and protect you and your family in the days ahead. May His Breakthrough Angels be at your side as we decree every evil strategy of set against you will backfire. In Jesus holy and precious name.”

Eastman may well need all that.

Last year, federal judge David O. Carter found Trump, Eastman and others “more likely than not” committed crimes in connection with the 2020 election. Eastman, Trump and and 17 others were indicted on racketeering charges for that alleged conduct in Georgia (Eastman has pleaded not guilty). And Eastman is “co-conspirator No. 2” in Trump’s federal indictment.

The California disbarment trial is the leading edge of all these legal woes. Both sides argue that the very fabric of our democracy hangs in the balance.

‘Good faith’

A refresher: Eastman advanced the theory that the vice president has the power to accept, reject or send back for further investigation electoral votes from states, even though those electoral votes were already certified by the states.

Which is to say, then-Vice President Mike Pence could have kicked back, or simply refused to count, “contested” electoral votes for Joe Biden, and even declare Trump the winner, the infamous Eastman memos argued.

He’s accused of prodding state electors to send fake electoral votes for Trump to the Capitol, to create that “contested” bit. Of filing false information with courts claiming massive irregularities that would alter the election’s outcome — even though he knew, or should have known, that was hogwash.

He’s accused of ignoring expertise that undercut his theories, of spreading incendiary lies that he knew were lies, of helping unleash the rage and violence that consumed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and cost several people their lives. The state bar charged him with 11 counts, the most colorful of which are dishonesty and moral turpitude.

In an 86-page closing brief in a trial that has dragged on since June, Eastman’s attorneys argue that he’s being persecuted — “lawfare,” in Eastman’s own words — for daring to raise questions about the election’s integrity.

While proof of large-scale fraud has never materialized, many state officials — without the required legislative approval — changed voting rules to accommodate the pandemic. They allowed ballots to be mailed to everyone, allowed people to “cure” ballots with issues (such as forgetting to sign the ballot), eliminated signature requirements, used unguarded drop boxes. This, in Eastman’s analysis, makes those votes illegal. His remedy: Throw those votes out (which, incidentally, would have made Trump the victor).

He argues his theories about the vice president’s power over electoral vote counts are not unreasonable; he was simply being a zealous advocate for his client, the president, in advancing untested legal theories; and he wraps himself in the First Amendment, arguing that everything he said was a matter of free speech and he can’t be punished for it, whether true or not.

“What we are witnessing is an unprecedented use – and abuse – of the legal system to silence the views of political opponents,” Eastman’s attorneys argue. “When seen in that light, the Notice of Disciplinary Charges at issue here should never have been brought, and it should be dismissed now, categorically, lest a precedent be set that will have a chilling effect on legal advocacy for decades to come.

“This is authoritarianism, not republicanism,” they said. “And Dr. Eastman, in fulfilling his duties to a client, happens to have been thrust to the forefront of the push-back against such authoritarianism, at great expense both in time and treasure to himself. If Dr. Eastman and his client were correct that the 2020 election was stolen – a view they firmly held at the time and continue to hold – then the threat to our system of government is extraordinarily high.”

‘Illusion of legality’

The bar attorneys agree about the “threat to our system part.”

“(T)he evidence shows that (Eastman) conspired with then President Donald Trump to develop and implement a strategy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021, and to illegally disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joseph Biden, knowing that there was no plausible evidence, and no good faith theory or argument, to lawfully undo or delay the January 6 electoral count,” their closing brief says.

Eastman’s “misconduct strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a lawyer – he misused his license in a grave and injurious manner designed to undermine our democracy, subvert the peaceful transfer of presidential power, and thwart the will of the people in a free and fair election. In doing so, he betrayed the fundamental duties and oaths he swore to uphold.”

The defense that Eastman acted in a good-faith search for the truth and to defend democracy is simply not credible, they said.

His “tactics and admissions confirm that he understood that his role was not to provide good faith advocacy, but to fabricate an illusion of legality to an illegal effort to delay the formal recognition of Trump’s obvious defeat by any means possible,” they wrote. “(H)e held — and still holds — truth and democracy in contempt, deliberately disregarding facts that demonstrate the validity of Biden’s victory to further a false narrative that would ignore the Constitution, disenfranchise millions of voters, and undermine a democratic election for President of the United States in favor of his allegiance to Trump.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Hearing to Disbar Trump Ally John Eastman Concludes with Ruling Expected in 3 Months

Attorneys for the State Bar of California made their final argument for the disbarment of former Chapman University law school dean John Eastman Friday.

They faulted him for sloppy legal research and conspiring to persuade then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn President Joe Biden’s election.

Eastman’s attorneys, however, argued that the watchdog’s arguments are “Orwellian” and “chilling” on legal advocacy.

The hearing’s judicial officer, Yvette D. Roland, will issue a ruling within the next 90 days.

State Bar attorney Duncan Carling argued that the evidence in the 35 days of trial from 23 witnesses “clearly and convincingly establishes that John Eastman is culpable of all charges and that his highly aggravated and serious misconduct requires his disbarment.

“Specifically,” he continued, “the evidence shows that respondent conspired with then-President Donald Trump to develop and implement a strategy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, and to illegally disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joseph Biden, knowing that there was no plausible evidence, and no good- faith theory or argument, to lawfully undo or delay the Jan. 6 electoral count.”

Carling noted that by mid-December 2020, courts in the seven key states where challenges were made were “uniformly rejected.” The Trump administration’s Justice and Homeland Security Departments had also refuted Trump’s claims of widespread fraud, Carling added.

The governors in the seven states, including some who were Republicans with legislative majorities, had certified Biden’s election. The Electoral College also had certified the results.

“By the time (Eastman) wrote his Dec. 23 and Jan. 3 memoranda, therefore, he knew that there could be no true dispute about who had won the election,” Carling said.

Still, Eastman pressed Pence to reject the slates of electors in the seven states or send them back to the state legislatures for continued investigation of the debunked fraud claims, Carling said. That move would violate the Electoral Count Act, which has been in place for more than a century, he argued.

He added, “it would effectively make Pence the sole and final super-judge of the lawfulness of state elections – and, indeed, of his own election – contrary to the Framers’ intent, established principles of federalism and separation of powers, and any notion of checks and balances.”

Carling also criticized Eastman’s speech at the Ellipse before mobs of Trump supporters marched over to the Capitol with many rioting and breaking into the building, some seeking to disrupt Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. Eastman continued making the case to Pence’s attorney even as the violence was unfolding, Carling added.

Eastman relied on and “purposely parroted the misguided opinions and narratives of demonstrably unqualified, unvetted and unreliable ‘experts,’ ” Carling said.

Carling pointed out that even Eastman’s own expert, John Yoo, acknowledged in testimony that Biden won “fair and square.” Carling added that Yoo himself capitulated when then-U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr declared there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the election.

Eastman’s “misconduct, accompanied by his blatant indifference, which persists to date, is so outrageous and exceptional, there is no case law directly on point,” Carling said, adding it is worse even than the conduct of Donald Segretti, known for his tricks in the 1970s Watergate scandal.

Segretti at least was only 30 at the time and was not acting as an attorney and ultimately recognized how wrong he was and “expressed regret and cooperated with the investigating agencies,” Carling said.

Eastman’s “misconduct is much more egregious and has a direct correlation to the Jan. 6 riot, which caused serious physical harm,” Carling said.

Eastman’s attorney, Randall Miller, however argued at a State Bar Court courtroom in downtown Los Angeles that his client should not be found culpable and should face no discipline or sanctions.

Miller said that as the courts were not providing any sort of relief for Eastman’s client he turned to “other potential remedies not foreclosed by clearly established precedent.”

The attorney added that it was still an “open question” whether the vice president has the authority to delay or halt the certification of the electors. He said Eastman engaged in a “good-faith interpretation of the historical record” that was “not foreclosed by precedent …”

He added that “every lawyer is ethically and by oath obligated to pursue a matter on behalf of a client despite opposition, obstruction or personal inconvenience to the lawyer, and take whatever lawful and ethical measures are required to vindicate a client’s cause or endeavor. And with commitment and dedication to the interests of the client and with zeal in advocacy upon the client’s behalf.

“That principle, the law for 225 years,” he argued “teeters under the weight of this Bar proceeding.”

Miller argued that his client has First Amendment protection when he alleged fraud in the election. Miller also discounted the public claims from Barr and others regarding the integrity of the election.

“The premise of the State Bar’s charges against Dr. Eastman, which rests on these and other similar statements, has an Orwellian cast to it: the government has spoken, and if you disagree, then you must be lying,” Miller said. “Two plus two equals five, after all, and if the government says so, you must not only repeat the lie, but you must come to believe it as well.

Click here to read the full article in Times of San Diego

Trump co-defendant takes digs at former president in requesting speedier timeline in Georgia election case

Ex-Trump attorney John Eastman urged the court to set an earlier final plea date, calling the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office proposal of June 21 “arbitrary and capricious.”

John Eastman, a co-defendant of Donald Trump in the Georgia election interference case, appeared to take a dig at the former president in a filing Monday that pressed the court for a faster schedule next year.

In the filing, Eastman attorney Wilmer Parker III said that the final plea date should be set earlier in the year “so that Defendants who do not have lifetime United States Secret Service protection and who are not running for election to an office can exercise and have their right to a jury trial completed within 2024.”

Scheduling an earlier final plea date and severing the defendants into two groups would allow “more than enough time” for the court to try two trials without Trump, Parker argued. Prosecutors are seeking to try all the defendants together.

“Without Defendant Trump in the courtroom the U.S. Secret Service will not be involved in providing enhanced security, and the trials will proceed faster,” Parker wrote.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis this month requested an Aug. 5 start date for the trial and a final plea hearing date of June 21. She argued that the proposed timeline “balances potential delays from Defendant Trump’s other criminal trials…and the other Defendants’ constitutional speedy trial rights.”

Eastman’s attorney wrote Monday that “waiting until June 21 … is both arbitrary and capricious.”

A spokesperson for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office nor a campaign spokesperson for Trump responded to requests for comment Monday.

Trump’s lawyers have opposed Willis’ proposal and asked for a hearing to argue against her motion.

Trump has pushed unsuccessfully to delay various legal challenges until after the election, arguing that earlier trial dates amount to election interference. His federal election interference case is scheduled to begin in March, while his classified documents case is slated for May.

Click here to read the full article in NBC News

California bar finds John Eastman culpable for misconduct — setting up possible disbarment

The California State Bar has found pro-Trump attorney John Eastman culpable for ethics violations and misconduct in his plot to help former President Donald Trump overturn the 2020 presidential election, reported MSNBC legal analyst Tristan Snell on X.

The next phase is determining penalties for Eastman, which could range from a suspension to permanent revocation of his law license.

Eastman, a far-right former law professor, was the author of an infamous memo laying out a six-step plan to throw out electoral votes for then President-elect Joe Biden and kick the election to Trump — even while he purportedly privately admitted the plan was against the law.

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All of this comes at the same time Eastman is facing criminal charges in the Georgia election racketeering case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, which also charged Trump and several other GOP attorneys and party activists.

While all this has been going on, Eastman also got more bad news this month, as the Supreme Court declined to vacate court rulings that resulted in Eastman’s emails being turned over to the former House Select Committee on January 6.

Trump’s crooked lawyers are reason to reform the field

Three recent guilty pleas show the crucial role attorneys played in the plot to overturn the election.

Over the last two weeks, Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, three lawyers central to Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, pleaded guilty in the Georgia racketeering case against the former president and 18 co-defendants. All admitted significantly lesser crimes than charged and escaped prison time.

Prosecutors may be more interested in Trump himself, but the lenient plea deals fail to comport with the culpability of these and other lawyers in Trump’s plot against the election. Eight attorneys were indicted in the Georgia case, and the federal indictment of Trump in the Jan. 6 plot includes five attorneys as unindicted co-conspirators, unnamed but identifiable as Powell, Chesebro, Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark.

Lawyers weren’t just involved in Trump’s plot; they devised and enabled it. Lawyers developed the strategies, manufactured a faux constitutional crisis and manipulated legal requirements in the effort to keep Trump in power and give his attempted coup the trappings of legality and legitimacy.

Only lawyers could have performed these services.

It was clear that Trump had lost the 2020 election by early December of that year. But rather than accurately advise him that there were no further legal options, Chesebro circulated a memo outlining a plan that would circumvent court losses, subvert states’ certified electors and allow Trump to win. What could transform defeat into victory? The lawyer’s craft: manipulation of law and fact.

Tellingly, the attorney co-conspirators have protested that they were just providing legal advice. Before her tearful guilty plea on Tuesday, Ellis asserted that the Georgia indictment was “criminalizing the practice of law.” Chesebro once contended that their advice was simply “the kind of war-gaming that attorneys do.”

Despite these lawyers’ readiness to help Trump overturn the election, the judiciary had proved fairly impervious to his assault of over 60 postelection lawsuits. That wasn’t happenstance. Lawyers are required by the rules of procedure and professional conduct to have a reasonable basis in law and fact for anything they submit in court. They also have a duty of candor to the court requiring them to identify controlling contrary arguments.

But attorneys’ advice to clients has been treated differently. Lawyers violate the rules on advice only if they “counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent.” That means lawyers can even advise clients to engage in illegal conduct as long as they don’t know it’s criminal or fraudulent. Moreover, lawyers are not required to have a reasonable basis in law and fact for their advice or to identify contrary precedents.

This is particularly problematic in the context of legal advice to government officials regarding the use of their power. Such advice shapes the use and abuse of government authority, which belongs not to officeholders but to the people.

With the exception of Clark, who worked for the Justice Department, the implicated attorneys were private-sector practitioners advising the president. Because they didn’t formally work for the government, they weren’t bound by federal regulation of government attorneys or the entity rule, under which a government lawyer has a duty to the government itself and not merely an official.

Even when advising Trump as to the use of government power, these private attorneys had no duty to anyone but Trump. Consequently, they acted entirely in Trump’s personal interests, bending law and fact to his interests, even against the interests of the government and people.

Take the false elector scheme outlined in Chesebro’s Dec. 6 memo. Eastman, Giuliani and Ellis would all join Chesebro in advising or implementing the plan, with Eastman drafting his own now infamousmemos. The plan was to recruit fake electors in seven states and assert that Vice President Mike Pence had the power to refuse to count the supposedly disputed electoral slates.

Chesebro emailed detailed instructions for the false electors for each state to make sure they cast their votes in the manner set out by law and provided counterfeit elector certificates to print and sign. The idea that this technical “compliance” with law would somehow render these slates legal would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. Chesebro had the phony electors sign certifications that they were “the duly elected and qualified Electors” from those states, which theyemphatically were not.

These electoral slates were a machination that the lawyers treated as fact and the basis for their advice that “7 states” had “transmitted dual slates of electors.” In fact, not a single state or authorized representative had created or certified these slates. Eastman nevertheless advised, “The fact that we have multiple slates of electors demonstrates the uncertainty of either,” lending the counterfeit slates the same efficacy as those certified by the states. This advice would have usurped the states’ constitutional power to elect the president and given it to the federal executive branch.

The attorneys’ advice also incorporated the false assertions that the election was stolen or fraudulent. Attorneys promoting a radical scheme to disenfranchise more than 26 million voters had a duty to ensure that their advice was grounded in fact.

Most government officials have at least qualified immunity for actions taken in carrying out their duties. Knowing that officials might not be held accountable for their actions should compel lawyers to act with even greater fidelity to both fact and law when advising government clients. Preposterously, Trump is now asserting immunity for “organizing” the false electors.

If lawyers can manipulate law and fact to justify whatever a government official wants, then official immunities can become a license for oppression, abuse and lawlessness backed by the full weight of government power.

Trump certainly wanted to stay in power at all costs and refused the counsel of many good lawyers and advisors who told him he had lost. But what if Chesebro, Eastman, Ellis and Giuliani had told him the same thing?

Trump would have had nowhere to go. He could not have come up with the false elector scheme on his own. He could have fired off angry tweets, ranted at rallies and thrown dishes and ketchup, but he couldn’t have undermined the electoral process without the lawyers who crafted the plan.

And without the phony electors, none of the efforts to use them to undo Joe Biden’s victory would have occurred: no pressuring of Pence to reject the votes, no rally in Washington to “encourage” him in that direction and no storming of the Capitol.

State bars can begin to respond to these glaring deficiencies by enacting professional conduct rules for lawyers advising government officials, including private lawyers. These rules should specify that lawyers owe a duty to the public to uphold the integrity of our constitutional system and the office being advised. The rules must require lawyers to have a good-faith basis in both law and fact for their advice. And state bars should discipline lawyers who don’t.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times