Giuliani’s Law License Suspended After Election Fraud Claims
A New York state appeals court on Thursday suspended Rudolph Giuliani from practicing law because of his allegedly false statements that challenged the integrity of the 2020 presidential election and defeat of former President Donald Trump.
Giuliani is a former New York City mayor and Trump’s personal attorney.
The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled Giuliani’s license should be suspended until its grievance committee completes its investigation.
His false statements to a court and in the media about election fraud “immediately threatens public interest,” the 33-page rulingsaid.
Giuliani said the suspension violates his First Amendment right of free speech and the Sixth Amendment right of Trump to be represented by an attorney.
The New York court said the issue was not constitutional rights but abuse of authority.
“The seriousness of respondent’s uncontroverted misconduct cannot be overstated. This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden,” the panel’s written decision said.
Some of the complaints about Giuliani are linked to his statements during a Jan. 6 rally with Trump in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., which the court said, “directly inflamed” the crowd.
During the rally, Giuliani repeated accusations of voter fraud first lodged by Trump, which whipped his supporters into a frenzy that led them to attack the Capitol building.
“If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail,” Giuliani said about state election officials he accused of conspiring to steal the election from Trump.
“Let’s have a trial by combat,” Giuliani told the crowd before it turned into a mob.
All election fraud claims largely were discredited by federal courts where Trump and his associates filed lawsuits to contest the votes in states where he lost.
At least three legal ethics complaints are pending against Giuliani.
One of the first came from State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, less than a week after the riot at the U.S. Capitol.
A second was filed by Lawyers Defending American Democracy, a nonpartisan national group of lawyers. A third was from Michael Miller, past president of the New York State Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers’ Association.
Trump issued a statement defending Giuliani that said, “Can you believe that New York wants to strip Rudy Giuliani, a great American Patriot, of his law license because he has been fighting what has already been proven to be a Fraudulent Election?”
He added that “all of New York is out of control.”
The ethics accusations against Giuliani represent an ironic turn of events for a lawyer and politician who earned a reputation as a top federal prosecutor of organized crime and a law-and-order zealot as New York’s mayor.
He has 20 days to appeal the license suspension but still will face closed-door disciplinary proceedings for what the appellate court called “demonstrably false and misleading statements.”
The court’s decision said Giuliani would likely face “permanent sanctions” after the proceedings, which could take months to conclude. Typically, the sanctions range from a written warning to disbarment.
He is represented by attorneys John Leventhal and Barry Kamins, who said in a statement that suspension before a hearing was inappropriate.
“This is unprecedented as we believe that our client does not pose a present danger to the public interest,” the attorneys said.
Giuliani resigned from the law firm of Greenberg Traurig in 2018 after clashes with fellow partners over his public statements defending Trump for hush money payments made to a porn star. In 2019, he organized his own law firm, called Rudolph W. Giuliani, PLLC.
He faces the possibility of additional sanctions in Washington, D.C., where he also is licensed as an attorney. An ethics decision against lawyers in one jurisdiction often leads to disciplinary proceedings in other places they practice law.
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