Attorney Larry Klayman was familiar presence during the Clinton administration. The founder of Freedom Watch and Judicial Watch and conservative gadfly helped bring dozens of cases against Bill Clinton, the White House, and various staff members and agencies, uncovered some damning documents in FOIA requests, filed government ethics complaints, and continued to champion conservative causes after he left Judicial Watch in other hands. He represented former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and state’s rights activist rancher Cliven Bundy, among other clients. Now the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility Ad Hoc Hearing Committee has handed down a 183-page report finding that Klayman breached the D.C. professional ethics rules, recommending that he be suspended from the practice of law for 33 months, and have he prove his rehabilitation and fitness to gain reinstatement.
According to the report, Klayman represented Elham Sataki, whom he helped file a 2010 sexual harassment suit against her employer, Voice of America. Klayman persuaded Sataki to move to Los Angeles and offered to pay her housing and living expenses, telling Sataki she could later reimburse him. She took him up on the offer, but when Sataki rejected Klayman’s overtures for a romantic relationship, the findings state, the lawyer raised his fee demands to continue representing her sexual harassment claim. As a result, the report concludes, Sataki did not pursue her case.
The committee cited “especially egregious violations” of Rule 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation), Rule 1.4(b) (Communication), Rule 1.5(b) and 1.5(c) (Fees), Rule 1.6(a)(1) and 1.6(a)(3) (Confidentiality of Information) and Rule 1.7(b)(4) (Conflict of Interest: General). Interestingly, there was no claim that Klayman had breached a rule forbidding sexual relationships between attorney and client, because D.C. is one of the few jurisdictions that has no such rule, and because there never was a sexual relationship. However, a romantic relationship with a client or the desire for one is often a serious conflict of interest violation with or without sex, and loaning exorbitant amounts to clients, charging unreasonable fees and revealing confidential information relating to the representation are all major ethics breaches.
The disciplinary complaint was originally filed by Sataki in 2010, which gives you some idea of how far lawyer discipline complaints are backed up. Klayman plans to appeal til the last dog dies, and estimates the process will take three to five years before any resolution. That sounds about right.
Klayman says that “this is a political hit job” led by the Left. I doubt it, and not just because I know most of the parties that investigate these complaints for the D.C. bar. Klayman, like many activist lawyers, has always been an ethics tight-rope walker, and that’s a kind way to put it. He received a public reprimand from the Florida bar in 2011 for failing to timely pay a mediated settlement to a client. His license is currently on administrative suspension in Pennsylvania for failure to keep up with CLE requirements, according to court documents. He also faces two other discipline matters in D.C.: in February 2018, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility recommended Klayman be suspended for 90 days after finding that he had allegedly violated rules against client conflicts of interest and for giving false testimony. Also in 2018, seven charges were brought against Klayman by the D.C. Office of Disciplinary Counsel relating to his attempted representation of Bundy in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada when he wasn’t a member of the Nevada Bar. When he was denied permission at the district and circuit court levels to be waived into the jurisdiction to represent Bundy, Klayman allegedly engaged in conduct “involving dishonest, deceit and misrepresentation” and “seriously interfering with or prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
This just doesn’t sound like a vast left wing conspiracy to me. It sounds like a habitually unethical lawyer who might have profited from some of those ethics CLE courses he skipped in Pennsylvania.