supreme court

Ex-Trump lawyer Eastman should lose state law license for efforts to overturn election, judge says

LOS ANGELES — A judge has recommended that conservative attorney John Eastman lose his California law license over his efforts to keep former President Donald Trump in power after the 2020 election.

Eastman, a former law school dean, faced 11 disciplinary charges in the state bar court stemming from his development of a legal strategy to have then-Vice President Mike Pence interfere with the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

State Bar Court of California Judge Yvette Roland’s recommendation, issued Wednesday, now goes to the California Supreme Court for a final ruling on whether he should be disbarred. Eastman can appeal the top court’s decision.

“Dr. Eastman maintains that his handling of the legal issues he was asked to assess after the November 2020 election was based on reliable legal precedent, prior presidential elections, research of constitutional text, and extensive scholarly material,” Eastman’s attorney, Randall Miller, said in a statement after the ruling. “The process undertaken by Dr. Eastman in 2020 is the same process taken by lawyers every day and everywhere – indeed, that is the essence of what lawyers do.”

The judge found Eastman liable for 10 of the 11 charges, including misleading courts, moral turpitude, making false statements and plotting with Trump to hinder the transfer of power.

“Eastman conspired with President Trump to obstruct a lawful function of the government of the United States; specifically, by conspiring to disrupt the electoral count on January 6, 2021,” Roland wrote in her 128-page decision.

The California State Bar is a regulatory agency and the only court system in the U.S. that is dedicated to attorney discipline.

Eastman separately faces criminal charges in Georgia in the case accusing Trump and 18 allies of conspiring to overturn the Republican’s loss in the state. Eastman, who has pleaded not guilty, has

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Ed Burke retires as lawyer after Illinois Supreme Court failed to pull law license

Former Chicago Ald. Edward Burke has formally retired as a lawyer, a change in status from just two weeks ago when WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times first reported how a hamstrung Illinois Supreme Court failed to suspend his law license after his federal corruption conviction.

The state Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission website is now revealing that new status, though it’s not clear in the public record when exactly the change happened.

He had been listed as legally able to practice law prior to the WBEZ/Sun-Times report on March 11.

After Burke was convicted last December, the ARDC urged the state Supreme Court to suspend his law license, as is customary when lawyers run afoul of state or federal law.

After the federal convictions last year of two defendants in the Commonwealth Edison corruption case, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore and ex-company lobbyist Michael McClain, the ARDC stripped both of their law licenses, even as they await sentencing.

But the court didn’t go that route with Burke after his racketeering, bribery and extortion conviction.

Instead, several justices cited conflicts of interest and recused themselves, sinking the effort — a move that wasn’t publicly revealed until almost a month after the fact by WBEZ and the Sun-Times.

The result of that paralysis on the court meant Burke remained in good legal standing with the state and was permitted to practice law, even though his lawyer indicated his client had no desire to do so. Burke was first licensed with the state in 1968.

The issue flared during the final week of the primary involving state Supreme Court Justice Joy Cunningham and her rival, Appellate Justice Jesse Reyes, who called on her to divulge whether she was among the justices who recused themselves in the Burke case.

Reyes called the court’s inability

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Ex-Ald. Ed Burke retires as a lawyer after the state’s highest court failed to pull his law license

Former Chicago Ald. Burke has formally retired as a lawyer, a change in status from just two weeks ago when WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times first reported how a hamstrung Illinois Supreme Court failed to suspend his law license after his federal corruption conviction.

The state Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission website is now revealing that new status, though it’s not clear in the public record when exactly the change happened.

He had been listed as legally able to practice law prior to the WBEZ/Sun-Times report on March 11.

After Burke was convicted last December, the disciplinary commission had urged the state Supreme Court to suspend his law license, as is customary when lawyers run afoul of state or federal law.

After the federal convictions last year of two defendants in the Commonwealth Edison corruption case, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore and ex-company lobbyist Michael McClain, the commission stripped both of their law licenses, even as they await sentencing.

But the court didn’t go that route with Burke after his racketeering, bribery and extortion conviction.

Instead, several justices cited conflicts of interest and recused themselves, sinking the effort — a move that wasn’t publicly revealed until almost a month after the fact, when it was reported by WBEZ and the Sun-Times.

The result of that paralysis on the court meant Burke remained in good legal standing with the state and was permitted to practice law, though his lawyer indicated his client had no desire to do so. Burke was first licensed with the state in 1968.

The issue flared during the final week of the primary involving state Supreme Court Justice Joy Cunningham and her rival, Appellate Justice Jesse Reyes, who called on her to divulge whether she was among the justices who recused themselves in the Burke case.

Reyes

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Trump co-defendant’s lawyer testifies in front of Georgia Senate

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The defense attorney who first alleged a personal relationship between Fulton County DA Fani Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade presented an argument in front of Georgia senators. 

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‘We don’t even know where the kid is’

Lance Jasper had hoped his client, Shanna ManyWounds, would be reunited with her 5-year-old son in time for Christmas.

Instead, ManyWounds, of Elmo, doesn’t even know if her child is still in the country, according to Jasper, her lawyer., the Daily Montanan reports.

“Seeing Shanna at Christmas with an empty house and presents for her son that are going to go unopened, it’s gut-wrenching,” Jasper said in an interview last week.

In late October, Jasper and lawyer Spencer MacDonald, both of Missoula, made an emergency request that the Montana Supreme Court take over a child custody case from Lake County District Court.

They agreed to represent ManyWounds, largely pro bono, after reading a transcript of a child custody hearing in September that resulted in a “draconian transition” for the child, a description the lawyers used in a court filing.

At the hearing, Judge Kim Christopher ordered the child to be immediately taken away from his mother, who had raised him, and be placed with his father, who had visited the child only four days a year.

Neither parent had proposed that plan.

The judge, however, argued the change would build the child’s “stress muscles,” remove him from an overly controlling “helicopter” mother, and give the father an equal chance to parent, for the next five years.

Last week, Jasper said the wait for an order has been excruciating for his client and confusing for him. In district court, he said, orders on emergency filings typically come out within one or two days.

At the very least, he said, part of the emergency in this case comes from the district court’s decision to prevent the mother from contacting her son, which he said is detrimental to both.

In their petition, the lawyers argue that prohibition made an already traumatic situation for

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Trump lawyer blasts Jack Smith’s urgency for ruling in immunity case: ‘It’s un-American’

Alina Habba, a lawyer for former President Trump, blasted special counsel Jack Smith for his urgency in asking the Supreme Court to take up Trump’s federal 2020 election criminal case and weigh in on his immunity defense.

“There is some sort of real sense of urgency,” Habba said in an interview highlighted by Mediaite. “The only urgency that I can see is that there is an election in November 2024 and they can’t beat him.”

Trump has attempted to toss the case by arguing that he has presidential immunity from the indictment that accuses him of entering criminal conspiracies to change the 2020 presidential election results.


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Smith has argued that the nation’s highest court should take up the issue before the D.C. Circuit issues its ruling, citing Trump’s fast-approaching March 4 trial date.

The Supreme Court agreed to expedite Trump’s deadline, ordering him to respond by Dec. 20. They will then decide if they are going to take the case.

Habba said “everyone can see” what Smith is doing and said it “is election interference at its finest.”

“They can’t beat him in the ballots so they’re gonna have to either, you know, lie, cheat, steal or the newest, is lawfare, put him in jail, tie him up,” she told Fox Business Network’s Larry Kudlow.

Kudlow suggested that since Trump would have to sit in trial every day for the case, they don’t want him on the campaign trail.

Habba agreed and said, “It’s actually playing against them.”

“He’s getting a lot of voters that he normally wouldn’t get because they’re seeing this and he is the victim of, all of a sudden they’ve made him a victim of complete and utter election interference and lawfare,”

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Biden has promoted diversity but his Supreme Court lawyers are mostly white

Lawyers representing Harvard University leave the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington in October 2022, as the court hears cases relating to affirmative action in college admissions. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

When Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar defended college affirmative action programs before the Supreme Court in October, she cited the lack of diversity in a group of people the justices know well: the lawyers who argue before them.

Just two of 27 lawyers who appeared before the court over the next two weeks would be women, Prelogar told the justices — a statistic that she argued could lead women to wonder whether they have a shot at arguing before the Supreme Court.

Prelogar cited only the dearth of women and not of Black and Hispanic lawyers arguing before the court, but her message in a case dealing with race-conscious admissions programs was clear.

“When there is that kind of gross disparity in representation, it can matter and it’s common sense,” she told the justices.

Her argument didn’t sway the court’s conservative majority, which ruled last month that Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s affirmative action programs were unconstitutional.

It did garner the attention of the court’s three liberal justices, who cited Prelogar’s remarks in a dissent, warning that “inequality in the pipeline to this institution, too, will deepen.”

But a similar lack of diversity to the one Prelogar pointed out in her argument has persisted for years in the solicitor general’s office, which is part of the Justice Department and represents the federal government before the Supreme Court.

Over the past dozen terms, nearly three-quarters of Supreme Court arguments made by lawyers in the office have been delivered by men, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

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Manson family killer Leslie Van Houten will be paroled, lawyer says, after Gov. Newsom drops fight

Leslie Van Houten, a follower of Charles Manson who was convicted in two killings, will be paroled in weeks, her attorney said Friday after California’s governor said he would not challenge it at the State Supreme Court.

“She’s thrilled,” Van Houten’s attorney Nancy Tetreault said.

Van Houten, now 73, will be paroled in the next several weeks after spending more than five decades in prison, Tetreault said.

An appeals court ruled in May that Van Houten is eligible for parole, reversing a decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom to reject parole.

Newsom, who has repeatedly blocked efforts for Van Houten to be paroled, had until Monday to file a challenge with the state Supreme Court.

Newsom, a Democrat, said Friday he would not do so.

“The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten but will not pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed,” Erin Mellon, spokesperson for the governor’s office, said in a statement.

“The California Supreme Court accepts appeals in very few cases, and generally does not select cases based on this type of fact-specific determination,” the governor’s office said.

Van Houten is serving a life sentence after being convicted along with other cult members of the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in Los Angeles.

A jury convicted Van Houten in 1971 of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. She was initially sentenced to death, but that was overturned and she has spent 52 years in state prison.

Van Houten has had 23 hearings before the Board of Parole. The panel has recommended Van Houten be paroled five times since 2016, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Newsom had reversed Van Houten’s parole grant three times.

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Lawyer files motion seeking discovery in case against DA Gonzalez

The lawyer who filed a writ of mandamus against Western Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez recently filed a motion asking a judge to open avenues for the discovery of evidence in the case.

Gonazalez had filed a motion confessing to the writ in May, but on the same day she appealed the case. The appeal was transmitted to the Supreme Court of Georgia on Thursday.

A writ of mandamus basically orders her to comply with the statutory duties of her office.

Deborah Gonzalez

Deborah Gonzalez

The suit against the DA was filed on behalf of Athens businessman Jarrod Miller, who said he voted for Gonzalez, but she is not complying with state law in the supervision of her office.

Gonzalez is two years into her elected position, but she is dealing with an upheaval of employees resigning.

Gonzalez filed a motion to dismiss the writ of mandamus in May, but Senior Superior Court Judge David Emerson, who was appointed to hear the case, denied her motion.

After Gonzalez confessed to the judgment, her lawyer, Derek Baurer of Atlanta, filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.

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Watkinsville attorney Kevin Epps, who represents Miller, filed a subsequent motion on May 30 asking Judge Emerson to set a discovery conference or a hearing on the remaining issues in the case.

Epps wrote in his motion that since Gonzalez “only partially confesses to judgment,” that the judge should abstain from entering a final judgment due to pending issues in the case.

According to the motion, Gonzalez has said, “I am not admitting or agreeing to any factual allegation or legal conclusion made by Mr. Miller as part of his lawsuit.

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Editorial: Eliminate SC lawyer-legislators’ outsized role in selecting our judges | Editorials

You might have already heard about the one time the role of lawyer-legislators was addressed directly during Wednesday’s extraordinary S.C. Supreme Court hearing over the secret judicial order that had released convicted murderer Jeroid Price from prison 16 years early.

Associate Justice George James asked Attorney General Alan Wilson if the fact that Mr. Price’s defense attorney is a lawyer-legislator was “relevant to any legal or procedural defects that you have argued … because it seems to me that that has been a driving factor in forums other than the one here today.”


SC killer freed 16 years early on secret order heading back to prison, Supreme Court rules

When Mr. Wilson said it was not but noted that “the secrecy of this whole thing makes people look at this with great skepticism,” the justice continued: “But the lawyer-legislator angle you agree is wholly irrelevant?”

“In this court,” Mr. Wilson responded quite deliberately, “it’s all about the law.”

“All about the law,” Justice George repeated. “Just want to be clear on that.”


Editorial: Two important reminders from Judge Manning's hasty order releasing murderer

But less than 10 minutes later, House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford demonstrated the subtle way he and other attorneys can remind judges that they are members of the body that determines who is and isn’t a judge.

When Associate Justice John Few quizzed Mr. Rutherford on his argument that a state law that requires murderers to serve at least 30 years in prison was trumped by the law Circuit Judge Casey Manning used to slash Mr. Price’s sentence by nearly half, Rep. Rutherford referred repeatedly to why “we” wrote the law one way instead of another.


Scoppe: Can SC lawyer-legislators' special courtroom perk drive reform?

In a display that we’d love to be able to believe would occur in a lower-profile hearing that wasn’t livestreamed, Justice Few interrupted to say: “You’re not ‘we’ here; you’re ‘they.’” After a split second, he smiled, and Mr. Rutherford immediately apologized. But even his

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