Ex-Trump lawyer Eastman should be disbarred, California judge rules

By Thomson Reuters Mar 27, 2024 | 6:40 PM

By David Thomas

(Reuters) – A California state judge on Wednesday said attorney John Eastman should be stripped of his law license for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump.

Eastman, a former personal lawyer to Trump who is now his co-defendant in the Georgia criminal case over efforts to sway the 2020 election, was accused of violating California attorney ethics rules against misleading courts and making false public statements.

The ruling by Judge Yvette Roland of California’s State Bar Court comes after a disciplinary trial last year, in which bar prosecutors argued that Eastman should lose his license for conduct that was “completely unsupported by historical precedent or law, and contrary to our values as a nation.”

The California Supreme Court has the final say on all disciplinary matters.

Lawyers for Eastman and a spokesperson for the California State Bar did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Eastman has defended his legal arguments and statements about the election, saying they were made in good faith.

Eastman was separately indicted in August 2023 in Fulton County, Georgia and charged along with Trump and others over efforts to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory in the state. Eastman and Trump pleaded not guilty.

A former law professor at Chapman University in California, Eastman drafted legal memos suggesting then-Vice President Mike Pence could refuse to accept electoral votes from several swing states when Congress convened to certify the 2020 vote count. Pence rebuffed his arguments, saying he did not have legal authority to do so under the Constitution.

Trump was also represented by Eastman in a long-shot lawsuit at the U.S. Supreme Court that sought to invalidate votes in four states where the Republican former president had falsely claimed evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Eastman repeated many of those claims at a rally outside the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, after which a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and delayed congressional certification of the election.

(Reporting by David Thomas; Editing by David Bario, Bill Berkrot and Leslie Adler)