Trump attorney John Eastman’s California law license could be in jeopardy
Former Chapman University Law School Dean John Eastman – who urged Vice President Mike Pence not to count the electoral votes of states Joe Biden narrowly won so Donald Trump can remain president — has been under investigation since September by the California State Bar.
The bar investigation, announced Tuesday, March 1, focuses on whether Eastman “engaged in conduct in violation of California law and attorney ethics rules following and relating with the presidential election of November 2020”.
If the bar finds Eastman has committed an offense, his license could be suspended or revoked.
“A number of individuals and entities have brought to the attention of the State Bar news articles, court documents and other public documents detailing Mr. Eastman’s conduct,” the attorney said. Chief of the Bar, George Cardon, in a prepared statement.
“We would like to thank those who took the time to bring this information to our attention, which serves as a starting point for our investigation. We will proceed with a single State Bar investigation in which we will continue to gather and analyze relevant evidence and go where that takes us.
Details of the investigation, however, will not be made public to give the process “the greatest chance of success”, the Law Society said.
Eastman did not return a request for comment. But attorney Randall A. Miller said this in an emailed statement:
“Dr. Eastman, a nationally recognized constitutional lawyer and scholar, represented former President Trump in several election challenges. As was his duty as an attorney, Dr. Eastman represented his client zealously, thoroughly exploring legal and constitutional means to advance his client’s interests. As a result of this representation, he also sought to protect his client’s privileged communications “at all risk to him”, consistent with his ethical obligation under the California Rules of Professional Conduct and the California Business and Professions Code… Dr. Eastman expects the Bar Association’s investigation of these matters to completely clear him of any charges.
Eastman’s Christian fundraising site, where he is seeking to raise $200,000 for legal and other costs, says he is the target of ‘hard-core left-wing activists who have filed a lawsuit against him , seeking to have him deregistered and thus lose his source of income”.
Eastman’s fundraising site also claims he was subpoenaed “by the House of Representatives’ hyper-partisan January 6 Committee, which targets anyone involved in election integrity efforts as well as those committed to freedom of expression and association to voice their objections to illegality in the conduct of the election Responding to these two attacks forced Dr. Eastman to hire outside counsel, at significant cost to himself.
Eastman penned memos exploring various ways it would be legal for Pence to stop the peaceful transfer of power to President Joe Biden on January 6, 2021. In an Oval Office meeting with Trump days before the violence, Eastman attempted to convince Pence that his plan was legal, but Pence rejected it.
The former Orange County law professor has become a political touchstone, championed by some as a freedom fighter and denounced by others as the architect of a failed coup.
“I believe this investigation is appropriate and necessary because John Eastman was the architect of an attempted coup,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of UC Irvine Law School and now dean of UC Berkeley School of Law.
Eastman defended himself on a recent Kim Monson show. “The propaganda to silence the truth is simply astounding. This is the kind of thing one would expect to see out of Stalinist Russia. Yet it happens daily in this country.
A State Bar investigation can take time to complete. Disciplinary cases are investigated and prosecuted by the State Bar’s Office of the General Counsel, acting on behalf of the public. If the lead trial attorney files charges, the state bar court oversees the disciplinary proceedings, decides whether an attorney has engaged in professional misconduct, and may recommend that an attorney be suspended or disbarred. This recommendation goes to the California Supreme Court, which decides whether or not to impose the recommended discipline.
A lawyer is entitled to a fair hearing and must be presumed innocent of any wrongdoing warranting discipline until any charges have been proven in a proceeding, the bar said.
Another lawyer linked to Trump, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, faced a similar process in New York. In June, a New York state court suspended Giuliani’s legal license after ruling that Giuliani had made “patently false and misleading statements” while fighting the 2020 election results.