Updated Mar 27, 2024 - Politics & Policy

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

John Eastman, former lawyer to Donald Trump, speaks to members of the media after leaving the State Bar Court of California in Los Angeles, California, US, on Tuesday, June 20, 2023.

John Eastman, former lawyer to ex-President Trump. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

John Eastman, a conservative former lawyer to ex-President Trump, should be disbarred over alleged efforts to subvert the 2020 election, a California judge ruled Wednesday.

The big picture: Eastman, who faces racketeering and conspiracy charges in Trump's Georgia case, has championed the legal theory that Trump used to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn 2020 election results. He intends to appeal the judge's ruling, per Politico.

  • In a 128-page opinion, Judge Yvette Roland called for the Trump ally's law license be revoked, ruling that Eastman violated ethics rules by promoting the former president's efforts to overturn the election.
  • "In view of the circumstances surrounding Eastman's misconduct and balancing the aggravation and mitigation, the court recommends that Eastman be disbarred," Roland wrote.

Catch up quick: The State Bar of California filed 11 disciplinary charges against Eastman, who also has a law license in Washington D.C., last year over his 2020 election efforts.

  • The State Bar alleged Eastman "engaged in a course of conduct to plan, promote, and assist" Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
  • In testimony to the California Bar last year, Eastman stood by his claim that state legislatures had the power to reverse President Biden's win in 2020.

The other side: "If Dr. Eastman and his client were correct that the 2020 election was stolen — a view they firmly held at the time and continue to hold — then the threat to our system of government is extraordinarily high," his lawyers submitted in a closing brief, per the Los Angeles Times.

Where it stands: The matter will move to the California Supreme Court for approval.

  • Eastman was ordered to involuntary inactive status following the ruling, so he cannot practice law in California while the court considers the case.

Zoom out: Eastman is one of 18 people indicted alongside Trump as part of the 2020 election interference case in Georgia.

  • The former law school dean has vowed to contest the charges, while four co-defendants have pleaded guilty.
  • Eastman is also an alleged co-conspirator in the federal election interference case against Trump, though he is not named in the indictment.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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