Eastman, architect of Trump’s ’20 elec plot, should be disbarred, judge rules

Source: Politico | March 27, 2024 | Kyle Cheney

John Eastman, architect of Trump’s 2020 election plot, should be disbarred, judge rules

“The most severe available professional sanction is warranted to protect the public,” Judge Yvette Roland wrote.

A California judge on Wednesday recommended the disbarment of John Eastman, calling to revoke the law license of one of former President Donald Trump’s top allies in his failed last-ditch gambit to subvert the 2020 election.

Judge Yvette Roland, who presided over months of testimony and argument about the basis of Eastman’s fringe legal theories, ruled that the veteran conservative attorney violated ethics rules — and even potentially criminal law — when he advanced Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results based on weak or discredited claims of fraud.

Eastman plans to appeal Roland’s decision to a panel of judges, an interim step before the matter reaches the state Supreme Court. But while his appeal is pending, the ruling forces his law license into “inactive” status, meaning he can no longer practice law in California.

“Given the serious and extensive nature of Eastman’s unethical actions, the most severe available professional sanction is warranted to protect the public and preserve the public confidence in the legal system,” Roland ruled.

Roland’s 128-page opinion was a lacerating rebuke of Eastman’s conduct and his subsequent lack of remorse. She concluded that he made knowingly flimsy claims of fraud and irregularities in legal filings on Trump’s behalf, including his brief for Trump in a Supreme Court fight.

The judge walked through Eastman’s extensive involvement in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, from his early lawsuits that failed to gain traction to his bid to solicit GOP state legislatures to send “alternate” electors to Congress, a last-gasp bid to keep Trump in power. At every turn, Roland said, Eastman ignored evidence that was unfavorable to his case and accepted at face value claims of fraud or misconduct aimed at sowing doubt about the election results.

“He turned a blind eye to any information that would not support his position of election fraud,” Roland wrote.

In all, Roland found Eastman culpable for 10 of 11 charges that state bar investigators brought against him, including misleading courts, lack of candor and, most notably, plotting with Trump to derail the transfer of power.

“Eastman conspired with President Trump to obstruct a lawful function of the government of the United States; specifically, by conspiring to disrupt the electoral count on January 6, 2021,” Roland ruled.


Roland found, in contrast, that the state bar investigators had failed to convincingly show that Eastman’s remarks to a Jan. 6 rally — which preceded the violent assault on the Capitol — played a role in ginning up the subsequent attack.

Roland said her disbarment recommendation was in part based on Eastman’s refusal to express regret and his attacks on the proceedings against him as politically motivated.

“Eastman has exhibited an unwillingness to acknowledge any ethical lapses regarding his actions, demonstrating an apparent inability to accept responsibility,” she wrote. “This lack of remorse and accountability presents a significant risk that Eastman may engage in further unethical conduct, compounding the threat to the public.”


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