Ethics

Judge recommends conservative lawyer John Eastman be disbarred in California

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John Eastman

John Eastman, left, an attorney indicted with former President Donald Trump, leaves after speaking to media outside the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, where he was booked on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. His attorney David Wolfe speaks to press in the background. (Arvin Temkar/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

A California judge recommended that conservative attorney John Eastman be disbarred in the state over his role in developing a legal strategy to help President Donald Trump stay in power after his 2020 election loss.

State Bar Court of California Judge Yvette Roland issued the recommendation in a 128-page ruling on Wednesday, ordering that Eastman’s law license be put on “involuntary inactive” status effective three days after her ruling. The California Supreme Court will issue a final ruling on the matter, which Eastman can appeal. Along with the recommendation for disbarment, Roland recommended that Eastman be ordered to pay $10,000 in monetary sanctions to the State Bar of California Client Security Fund.

“The court rejects Eastman’s contention that this disciplinary proceeding and Eastman’s resultant discipline is motivated by his political views or his representation of President Trump or President Trump’s Campaign,” Roland’s ruling said. “Rather, Eastman’s wrongdoing constitutes exceptionally serious ethical violations warranting severe professional discipline.”

Eastman’s attorney, Randy Miller, said in a statement that his client “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.”

“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,” Miller added.

Eastman—who also spoke at a rally at the Ellipse outside the White House that preceded the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021—initially faced 11 disciplinary charges stemming from allegations that he was the architect of the legal road map Trump followed to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 election by obstructing the electoral vote count in certain states. In her recommendation on Wednesday, Roland said that the Office of Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar of California “has satisfied its burden” of proving all the charges except for one, which the court dismissed.

Eastman has defended his actions in the case.

Along with the effort to be disbarred in California, Eastman, a former law school dean, has been embroiled in other legal cases related to election interference.


Jacqueline Alemany and Amy B Wang contributed to this report.

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