Judge Rules Ex-Trump Lawyer John Eastman Should Lose Law License

A California judge issued a recommendation on Wednesday to disbar a lawyer central to former President Trump’s endeavors to challenge the 2020 election results.

State Bar Judge Yvette Roland determined John Eastman culpable on 10 out of 11 counts filed by the California State Bar last year. The state bar sought to revoke Eastman’s law license in light of his "false and misleading statements" regarding alleged election fraud and his involvement in "provoking" the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

"In view of the circumstances surrounding Eastman’s misconduct and balancing the aggravation and mitigation, the court recommends that Eastman be disbarred," Roland wrote in a 128-page decision.

The judge also suggested imposing $10,000 in monetary sanctions on Eastman to the State Bar of California Client Security Fund.

Eastman’s legal team announced intentions to appeal Wednesday’s ruling, with the case likely reaching the California Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the judge ordered Eastman’s transfer to inactive status, prohibiting him from practicing law.

Roland’s ruling concludes a trial lasting over 30 days last year, during which Eastman testified. Just before the proceedings ended in November, the judge found Eastman preliminarily culpable. Roland was appointed by Toni Atkins, a Democrat who was then Speaker of the California State Assembly.

Eastman led the legal strategy to challenge the election results in key 2020 states, including using alternate electors to swing the outcome in Trump’s favor. The plan relied on then-Vice President Mike Pence discarding the real electors for the "fake" ones, with Eastman drafting memos that fueled pressure on Pence.

In her decision, Roland noted Eastman’s reluctance to acknowledge "any ethical lapses" in his conduct.

"This lack of remorse and accountability poses a significant risk that Eastman may engage in further unethical conduct, compounding the threat to the public," the judge wrote.

Despite a legal setback for Eastman, Roland sided with him on one of the 11 counts.

The state bar accused Eastman of moral turpitude over his Jan. 6 Ellipse speech, linking it to later violence, but the judge dismissed the count for lack of evidence linking Eastman’s statements to the Capitol assault.

Eastman’s lawyers labeled the disbarment proceedings as "Orwellian," arguing he fulfilled his ethical duty to represent Trump’s interests and had a First Amendment right to make public statements at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally.

"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," Eastman’s legal team stated.

"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," the statement continued.

The state bar contended that Eastman was creating "an illusion of legality to an illegal effort," pushing for his disbarment.

"Every California attorney has the duty to uphold the constitution and the rule of law," said Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona, whose office filed the discipline charges.

"Mr. Eastman repeatedly violated that duty. Worse, he did so in a way that threatened the fundamental principles of our democracy," Cardona added.

Eastman faces criminal charges in Georgia alongside Trump and others for trying to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. Eastman pleaded not guilty to the eight counts.

Other lawyers linked to Trump’s 2020 campaign faced consequences for false claims of election fraud and efforts to sway the election.

Rudy Giuliani had his New York law license suspended in 2021, and a D.C. Bar Association panel recommended revoking his district license. Ex-Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis was publicly censured in Colorado for false statements related to the election, and lawyer Lin Wood retired after the State Bar of Georgia dropped disciplinary proceedings against him.

A disciplinary trial for lawyer Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official involved in Trump’s election challenges, is ongoing. The D.C. Bar’s Board of Professional Responsibility aims to revoke his law license for using "the authority of the Department of Justice to overturn the election, based on a lie."

Eastman also maintains a law license in Washington, D.C.

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