Yesterday I talked about how the prosecution of John Eastman by the California State Bar lacks substance. Professor Eastman was doing nothing more than counseling the campaign of President Donald Trump on the remedies available under the Electoral Count Act in effect in 2020 for the constitutional violations of state law regarding the counting of votes in battleground states. The fact that Congress went through the effort of changing the Electoral Count Act in 2022 after Professor Eastman opined on the remedies the old act provided is proof, in and of itself, that there was some merit in the opinions of Professor Eastman about the remedies afforded under the old act. Any act of disciplining him for giving his client legal options is political theater, not enforcing the Rules of Professional Conduct or protecting the reputation of the bar.
During my time in the State Legislature, I was a critic of the State Bar, who I, as well as other legislators (such as Senator Bill Morrow), accused of being less concerned about protecting the public than it was in pursuing politics. Our efforts to reign in the political proclivities of the State Bar came to naught when Gray Davis was elected Governor. Davis and the Democrats of the Legislature had no problem with the Bar pursuing its political agenda, and neglecting its enforcement activities, and so all efforts to oversee the State Bar fell on deaf ears. The result: the State Bar returned to its policy of politics as a priority, and chasing bad lawyers as an afterthought.
If you think I am wrong, do some research on the Bar’s inaction with respect to Thomas Girardi. Girardi, a plaintiff’s lawyer in Los Angeles, literally stole millions of dollars from his clients over the years. More important, even though many complaints had been filed with the Bar against Girardi for misuse of client’s money, the Bar did nothing. Girardi was a famous and influential lawyer in Los Angeles, and enforcement of the Rules of Professional Conduct was a secondary mission for the Bar, so it did nothing, and Girardi’s clients lost millions over many years. The Bar tried to make up for its lack of oversight when it became clear they could no longer cover up Girardi’s actions, but the fact is, the inaction of the Bar enabled and encouraged Girardi’s wrongdoing.
Which brings us to John Eastman. If there is any evidence that the Bar places politics above enforcement of legal ethics, this is the case. Dozens of years of service without complaint did not protect John Eastman. Several left wing lawyers and law professors filed a complaint against Eastman because he was lawyer for the Trump campaign, and BOOM! the Bar moved into action, with incredible speed and efficiency. They cloak their political lynching of Eastman in veneer of “protecting the reputation of lawyers in California,” but it is clear this enforcement action is unnecessary, a waste of dollars that lawyers like me are required to pay for these types of enforcement actions, and an act of political vengeance, intended to deter any lawyer from representing Trump in the future.
There are hundreds of lawyers who steal money from their clients, abuse the legal process, violate the Rules of Professional Conduct on a regular basis, and the State Bar lets these violations go unpunished. Take a politically unpopular position as a lawyer, though, and watch out, the full power of the state bureaucracy will come crashing down on your head.
Professor Eastman doesn’t deserve this. He did nothing more than any other lawyer would do for his or her client, whether that client is popular or not. Eastman’s only sin was having the temerity to help Donald Trump. The fact that the Bar spent many weeks and tens of thousands of dollars pursuing this effort is an inexcusable abuse of their power to regulate the legal profession. Unfortunately, the left has their longswords out for John’s head because of his connection to Trump and will not be deterred. That does not speak well of the state of political action and freedom of speech in California