Law Professors

Former Chapman law prof says ex-dean knew of his work for Trump; 2 students were 'thrilled' to help

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Eastman and Giuliani Jan. 6 rally

John Eastman (left) joins lawyer Rudy Giuliani at a Washington, D.C., rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in support of then-President Donald Trump. They spoke before the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press.

Retired Chapman University law professor John Eastman is denying the school’s claim that his election legal work for former President Donald Trump wasn’t authorized by the school.

Eastman said in a Feb. 22 declaration he told Matthew Parlow, then the law school’s dean, about his work, reports. Eastman said he consulted with Parlow about a brief filed on behalf of Trump, and he removed “c/o Chapman University” from the signature block based on Parlow’s concern about its use “given the contentiousness of the post-election litigation.”

The rest of the signature block remained intact. It included the university’s street address, Eastman’s school email and his Chapman office phone number, which is official information on file for his bar membership.

Eastman also said he enlisted two Chapman law students to assist with the representation, and they were “thrilled” to do the work.

Eastman’s work on the school server became an issue as he fought a Jan. 20, 2022, subpoena sent to the university by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The committee sought documents on the university server that included emails, contact lists and calendar entries.

Douglas Letter, general counsel to the House of Representatives, told a judge during a court hearing earlier this month that Eastman “appears to be a central player in the development of a legal strategy to justify a coup,” according to

Eastman had requested an order barring release of the subpoenaed documents; the government argued in response that Eastman had no expectation of privacy for work on the school server.

Chapman’s response to Eastman’s request said the school didn’t authorize Eastman’s work for Trump, as doing so would jeopardize its tax-exempt status.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California refused to block production of the documents in a Jan. 25 opinion, but said Eastman could raise privilege claims regarding individual documents.

In a brief filed Feb. 22 with his declaration, Eastman said his use of the university email system did not waive his privilege regarding communications with Trump.

“Dr. Eastman’s duties specifically included representation of clients, both through the law school clinic and outside clients through the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, a public interest law firm he operated in affiliation with a separate nonprofit organization, the Claremont Institute,” Eastman’s brief said.

“Like other law faculty, Dr. Eastman’s promotion and tenure decisions, and his annual performance reviews and merit pay increases, were based in part on scholarship and service that expressly included representation of outside clients in matters related to his scholarship or that served the public interest. That Dr. Eastman’s election integrity work at issue here easily qualified under established university practice is not speculative but fully supported by nearly identical outside work Dr. Eastman performed early in his career at Chapman in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election.”

See also: “Prove it up: Scholars criticize law prof’s speech about secret folders and say it was unsupported” “Trump’s executive privilege bid could be hindered because of his use of campaign funds” “Law prof’s memo told Pence he could give Trump election win as ‘ultimate arbiter’ in elector count”

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