Rudy Giuliani Slapped With Ethics Charge Over Baseless Election Lawsuit
WASHINGTON — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a hero after 9/11, has been slapped with ethics charges by the disciplinary office of the D.C. Court of Appeals over claims he made in a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 election results in Pennsylvania.
In a complaint filed on Monday, disciplinary counsel for the court’s Board of Professional Responsibility allege Giuliani “brought a proceeding and asserted issues therein without a non-frivolous basis in law and fact for doing so, and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
Both claims are violations of the Pennsylvania rules of professional conduct. The matter is of interest in the District of Columbia because Giuliani has been a member of the bar of the D.C. Court of Appeals since 1976.
Giuliani filed the lawsuit underlying the ethics complaint in his role as personal attorney to former President Donald Trump.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Trump and a group of Pennsylvania voters, claimed that elections officials in some counties allowed mail-in voters to cure problems with their ballots by casting provisional ballots, while other counties did not.
Giuliani argued this select application of election rules violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, and asked that millions of votes be tossed in a pivotal swing state in the 2020 election.
Two weeks after the election, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann dismissed the case, holding the complaint was a “strained legal argument without merit.”
Brann went on to note that what Giuliani and the Trump campaign were asking him to do was to “disenfranchise almost seven million voters” from the bench.
He noted that in considering the request and reviewing case law, he could not find one example in which a plaintiff has asked for “such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election.”
Brann went on to say that any judge would have expected someone making such a bold request to have a compelling legal argument to back up their assertions.
In this case, the judge said, all the court was presented with were “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.”
“In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state,” Brann wrote.
Lastly, Brann said, while the Trump team sought to discredit scores of voters in specific counties, it did so only for one race — the presidential contest.
“This is simply not how the Constitution works,” he wrote.
The Trump team appealed the ruling to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied Giuliani’s request to file a second amended complaint.
At the time, Giuliani wasn’t a member of the bar for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, where the litigation was filed, but was admitted pro hac vice, meaning he was allowed to participate in this particular case.
Once involved, writes disciplinary counsel Hamilton Fox III and assistant disciplinary counsel Jason Horrell, Giuliani made several “extraordinary” claims including that state elections officials had engaged in a “premeditated” and “planned” effort to “steal the election … in this Commonwealth.”
He also made several requests for relief ranging from barring elections officials from certifying the election results to declaring the results invalid and allowing Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled General Assembly to choose the state’s electors to simply declaring Donald Trump the winner of the legal votes cast in Pennsylvania.
“Respondent had no non-frivolous basis in law and fact for asserting to the district court that the defendants committed election fraud, much less a factual basis for setting forth fraud with particularity … [and] cited … several sources that could not, as a categorical matter, prove that the defendants committed or facilitated election fraud during the 2020 elections,” Fox and Horrell wrote.
The complaint does not spell out the relief Fox and Horrell are seeking, leaving it to the disciplinary panel to decide.
Last year, the D.C. Court of Appeals suspended Giuliani from practicing law in Washington pending the outcome of a disciplinary proceeding in New York.
Giuliani’s license to practice law in New York was suspended in June 2021, over his having allegedly made “false and misleading statements” about the election loss of former President Trump.
The suspension in New York is temporary, pending the outcome of a full formal disciplinary hearing.
The Well News attempted to reach out to Giuliani’s lawyer, Arthur Aidala, for comment. This story will be updated if and when he replies.
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