Judge recommends John Eastman be disbarred in California

A judge recommended Wednesday that John Eastman, a co-defendant of Donald Trump in the Georgia election interference case, be disbarred in California.

“In view of the circumstances surrounding Eastman’s misconduct and balancing the aggravation and mitigation, the court recommends that Eastman be disbarred,” wrote Judge Yvette D. Roland of the State Bar Court’s Hearing Department in Los Angeles.

“After full consideration of the record,” the court found that the State Bar of California’s chief trial counsel’s office had satisfied its burden of proving a vast majority of its allegations against Eastman.

Eastman was hit with 11 disciplinary charges tied to allegations that he promoted a strategy that wasn’t backed by facts or law, which entailed a plan to have then-Vice President Mike Pence reject electoral votes cast for Joe Biden during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. 

The judge on Wednesday found Eastman culpable for 10 of the 11 charges, including misleading a court, making false statements and failing to support the Constitution. She dismissed one count of moral turpitude related to comments Eastman made at the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021, finding that the chief counsel’s office had “presented no evidence to show that Eastman’s statements contributed to the assault on the Capitol.”

Eastman’s attorney, Randall Miller, defended his client’s handling of legal matters in the aftermath of the election in a statement Wednesday night.

“Dr. Eastman 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,” Miller said.

“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,” he added.

The judge ordered that Eastman be transferred to “involuntary inactive status,” meaning he is prohibited from practicing law in California while the Supreme Court reviews his case. Eastman’s inactive status will be effective three days after the order is served, the judge said.

Eastman’s team is “confident” that the State Bar’s Review Court will “swiftly provide a remedy,” his attorney added Wednesday night.

The State Bar announced an ethics investigation into Eastman’s conduct in March 2022. Last year, it asked the court to revoke Eastman’s license to practice law in California.

Eastman also faces other legal challenges stemming from his conduct after the 2020 election.

In August, he was charged with orchestrating the so-called fake electors scheme designed to keep Trump in office after the 2020 presidential election, indicted along with 18 co-defendants. He was accused of violating Georgia’s racketeering laws.

Four of the defendants have pleaded guilty, while Eastman is among those who, like Trump, have pleaded not guilty.

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