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

Bay Area congressman proposes renaming Florida prison after Donald Trump

WASHINGTON — Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, and two other House Democrats want to name the Miami federal prison after former President Donald Trump.

The legislation, which has little chance of passing, would change the Federal Correctional Institution Miami’s name to the Donald J. Trump Federal Correctional Institution. The prison, located about 90 miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, is a low-security facility that holds about 1,000 men convicted of federal crimes. 

Click here to SUBSCRIBE to CA Political Review 

Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro is serving a four-month sentence at FCI Miami for contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with a subpoena. Right-wing internet personality Anthime Gionet, known as Baked Alaska, was incarcerated in the same facility for two months in 2023 after pleading guilty to unlawfully protesting inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

The legislation proposal came days after seven House Republicans introduced a bill to rename the Washington Dulles International Airport after Trump. (No California Republicans have signed onto the bill.)

“MAGA Republicans have proven themselves unwilling to solve real problems that face our country. I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to our former president, Donald J. Trump, than renaming the closest federal prison to Mar-a-Lago in his honor,” Garamendi said in a statement. “As always, my Democratic colleagues and I remain willing to work with anyone on common sense solutions to real world problems.”

Click here to read that the full article in the SF Chronicle

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.

Click here to SUBSCRIBE to CA Political Review 

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