(Bloomberg) -- Rudy Giuliani’s lawyers argued before an attorney ethics review panel in Washington on Thursday against a recommendation that he lose his law license for supporting Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
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Giuliani is contesting a report released this summer by a District of Columbia Bar committee finding he committed misconduct by pursuing a “frivolous” court challenge to President Joe Biden’s win in Pennsylvania. Giuliani’s lawyers urged the bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility to clear him of wrongdoing or to at least reject the disbarment recommendation, the most severe punishment possible. Giuliani did not attend the hearing.
Once the board makes its decision, the case will go to the DC Court of Appeals — the city’s equivalent of a state supreme court — for a final ruling.
Read More: Giuliani Should Lose Law License for Election Case, Panel Says
Giuliani contends he pressed the Pennsylvania lawsuit in good faith based on information then available to him and Trump’s campaign. He and other campaign lawyers unsuccessfully argued to invalidate potentially hundreds of thousands of votes in the state based on differences in how counties managed defective mail-in ballots and alleged problems with access to observe vote counting.
The DC bar committee that heard testimony and arguments in December 2022 concluded Giuliani “had no factual basis, and consequently no legitimate legal grounds” to pursue the case and used it as a vehicle to claim election fraud without any evidence.
Giuliani’s lawyers argued on Thursday that people shouldn’t be discouraged from airing grievances in court, “no matter how novel” the legal arguments. They disputed the overarching allegation by the bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which brought the case, that Giuliani tried to use his law license to undermine democracy.
Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton “Phil” Fox, argued that a sanction short of disbarment would be “virtually meaningless.”
Giuliani is “utterly unrepentant,” Fox said, and with another election coming up, lawyers should be “deterred” from engaging in similar conduct.
The board questioned if disbarring Giuliani could have a chilling effect and discourage lawyers from taking “tough positions” and pursuing “novel arguments.” Fox acknowledged there was tension between a lawyer’s responsibility to zealously advocate for a client and their obligation to avoid filing frivolous lawsuits, but he said that Giuliani’s litigation efforts were “devoid of a factual basis.”
Giuliani’s law licenses are suspended in Washington and New York. He’s facing state criminal charges in Georgia related to his postelection activities and has pleaded not guilty. He’s also a defendant in several civil cases accusing him of defamation for promoting election fraud conspiracy theories. He was found liable in one of those cases so far — a lawsuit brought by two Georgia election workers — and a trial on whether he’ll owe damages is scheduled for Dec. 11.
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