Rudolph W. Giuliani has been suspended from practicing law in New York and D.C. Other attorneys, including Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood, have been sanctioned by a federal judge in Michigan for their frivolous lawsuits. A federal judge in Colorado has sanctioned two attorneys for filing their lawsuits without merit. In all of these cases, the lawyers failed to exercise due diligence to investigate the veracity of the allegations they were making.
John Eastman, author of the infamous memos suggesting how to overturn the election, is being investigated by the California State Bar. But what has been missing so far is a comprehensive search and discipline for all lawyers who have violated their oaths. This is the void that the 65Project intends to fill.
The group has identified 111 attorneys in 26 states whose names appeared on President Donald Trump’s post-election lawsuit. The first 10 bar complaints she announced on Monday target “attorneys who have supported the sabotage of legitimate election results, including bogus voters, Trump’s internal legal circle and insurgents to hold them accountable by seeking disciplinary action. which may go as far as deregistration”. Trump had the right to sue plausible claims in court, but attorneys have a higher obligation not to sue based on fabricated facts or conspiracy theories that they have not bothered to investigate.
The defendants include two bogus voters from Georgia and one from Wisconsin. Cleta Mitchell, who participated in the infamous appeal in which Trump tried to force Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to ‘find’ enough votes to overthrow the state, is also accused of being charged by the bar .; Jenna Ellis, a Colorado attorney and conservative media commentator; Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump aide who has recognized its role in the search for “substitute voters”; and Joseph diGenova, a longtime Republican player in Washington legal circles. They are accused of lying “in court and in public statements about the election, orchestrating the fake voter scheme and encouraging violence”.
The subjects of the latest two complaints are an attorney who attended (and was charged with) the Jan. 6 rally, and another who attended and then filed a frivolous lawsuit “seeking to have the 117th Congress declared unconstitutional.”
The 65Project plans to continue researching other attorneys who may have breached their professional responsibilities. He will also launch public education campaigns in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada “to raise awareness of these issues and promulgate model language for the American Bar Association and bar associations.” State to clarify rules ahead of the 2022 election that fraudulent and malicious lawsuits seeking to nullify legitimate election results violate ethical duties that lawyers must abide by.
I was one of the first and frequent defenders of this type of project. To protect our democracy and maintain a rules-based legal system, lawyers who break their oath — or participate in an insurrection — must face consequences. This is the only effective way to prevent lawyers from supporting future coups and providing bogus legal advice to encourage politicians to engage in insurrection.
I asked 65Project Managing Director Michael Teter about members of Congress who are lawyers. “We plan to pursue lawsuits against elected officials who contributed to the January 6 instigation or participated in litigation that raised fraudulent and misleading claims,” he wrote in an email. “Of the 30 or so members of Congress who are lawyers and signed the amicus brief in Texas vs. Pennsylvaniawhich sought to reject Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, “we are identifying the most egregious of them (based on public statements, voting for objections to the voter count, etc.) and will soon be filing lawsuits with the bar.” .
The 65Project will also look into the conduct of Ken Paxton, the Republican attorney general of Texas, who brought the trial tough election results in four swing states and those of its counterparts in Arkansas, Utah, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and South Carolina. “As part of that,” Teter said, “we are considering filing open case requests to see if state resources have been spent going to other states and looking for ‘voter fraud’.”
His group cannot shoulder the workload alone. Teter told me, “We’re going to look to recruiting local teams of attorneys in each state where we’ll file complaints and begin sifting through relevant court documents to assemble the strongest possible case against the attorneys at Big Bind.” He added: “Then we will start filing the complaints, probably in waves.” It sounds like an exciting pro bono endeavor for some large law firms.
The 65Project announcement should come as a relief to democracy advocates who believe that many lawyers have failed miserably in their professional duties. Trump could not have filed complaints on his own; he needed lawyers. He did not invent false theories to justify a coup; the lawyers did it for him. These lawyers shouldn’t get a pass for violating rules of professional conduct. If bar complaints deter lawyers from helping Trump or other politicians in a future insurrection, the efforts of the 65Project will have achieved much-needed democratic hygiene.