A Washington DC professional conduct committee ruled Thursday that former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani violated ethics rules and should be sanctioned for filing a lawsuit aimed at helping the former President overturn Pennsylvania’s 2020 election results.
The decision by the hearing committee for the DC Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility is non-binding. There will be another round of hearings in front of the committee, and then proceedings move to the full board and eventually to DC’s local court of appeals, which will be the final arbiter on whether Giuliani should be sanctioned.
The committee’s decision does represent a significant step forward in efforts to hold Trump attorneys accountable for their efforts to use the courts to promote his unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
Giuliani’s hearing stemmed from a November 2020 lawsuit. Hamilton “Phil” Fox of the DC Disciplinary Counsel said in opening statements that Giuliani had “weaponized his law license” to push baseless claims that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen, bringing “a frivolous action in an attempt to undermine the Constitution.”
John Leventhal, the attorney representing Giuliani, argued that his client should not face charges because the judge at the time never accepted Giuliani’s complaint in the Pennsylvania lawsuit, which Giuliani himself signed.
Leventhal also noted that the judge did not sanction Giuliani when dismissing the arguments.
Any discipline, which would be determined by the DC court of appeals, could include suspension of Giuliani’s law license or disbarment.
Giuliani, who was Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001, had his New York law license suspended in June 2021 after a state appeals court ruled he had made “demonstrably false and misleading” statements about voter fraud.
His DC law license was temporarily suspended after the New York decision.