Late yesterday, the State Bar of California announced that Orange County attorney John Eastman (above), a former law school dean, law professor, and a long-time respected member of the bar, is the target of a disciplinary investigation into whether he violated laws while advising President Trump on options available to him in the wake of his election defeat in 2020. Eastman wrote two legal memos that advised Vice President Mike Pence that he could declare that the results in several states were disputed and therefore their electoral votes would go uncounted. The State Bar’s chief trial counsel, George Cardona, announced that Eastman has been the center of an investigation since September, saying in part, “A number of individuals and entities have brought to the State Bar’s attention press reports, court filings, and other public documents detailing Mr. Eastman’s conduct.”
That’s odd: bar investigations of ethics complaints are supposed to be confidential, so complaints can’t be used as political weapons or to impugn lawyers’ reputations. Why is Eastman being treated this way? Oh, I’m sure there is some fine print exception somewhere, but the real reason is obvious from the LA Times story headline yesterday: “Breaking News: Trump-connected lawyer John Eastman under investigation.” Eastman is “Trump-connected,” so it’s guilt by association, a Joe McCarthy specialty and a favorite tool of despots for centuries. Beware, any lawyers out there prepared to give counsel, representation and legal assistance to He Whom Progressives Hate and Fear! There will be consequences.
Attorney Randall Miller represents Eastman in the matter, said Eastman expects the investigation will exonerate him:
“Dr. Eastman, a nationally recognized constitutional attorney and scholar, represented former President Trump in several election challenges. As was his duty as an attorney, Dr. Eastman zealously represented his client, comprehensively exploring legal and constitutional means to advance his client’s interests.”
But the legal establishment doesn’t believe that Donald Trump’s rights and interests should be represented. On the legal ethics listserv I belong to, a very prominent lawyer and legal ethicist’s reaction to this news was “Yay!”
Utter hypocrisy and corruption, but sadly typical of the legal profession since November, 2016. The law school Eastman once led already applied the non-legal and unethical principle of guilt by association. In early January 2021, more than 100 Chapman faculty and others affiliated with the university signed a letter calling on the school to take action against Eastman for his “role” in the events of January 6, when a mob of idiotic Trump supporters swarmed over the U.S. Capitol. (Eastman had no role in the riot whatsoever.) Within the week, Chapman University President Daniele Struppa announced that Eastman was no longer affiliated with the university.
The usual suspects, like former Harvard law professor Larry Tribe and Erwin Chemerinsky, UC Berkeley’s leftist law school dean, are calling Eastman’s representation of Trump an “assault on democracy” when the precise opposite is true: what they are advocating is an assault on democracy, and also their own profession. It is the ultimate hypocrisy.
Ever since 2011, when the law firm representing the House of Representatives in the Supreme Court case involving DOMA capitulated to threats from other clients (and gay marriage activists) and dropped the representation, the legal profession’s vital commitment to giving unpopular causes and clients the best legal representation available has been collapsing under the weight of non-ethical considerations, like money, business, and the approval of progressive peers,) I have been warning my legal ethics seminars about the threat this development poses to Sixth Amendment rights and equal protection under the law. To this, the self-righteous retort from woke lawyers and professors is “But some clients are just bad and wrong, and don’t deserve to have effective representation!” These unethical professionals, of course, deem themselves qualified to decide who should have access to the law.
This is a dangerous development, and virtually unreported by the news media, in part because they share the same slanted concept of “fairness” and a similarly warped perception of “democracy.”