The preliminary finding by a subcommittee of the DC Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility means Giuliani and his legal team must file additional briefs detailing his defense and role in the lawsuit as officials consider what discipline he faces. Robert C. Bernius, the panel’s chair, said after a private 15-minute discussion Thursday that the finding was “preliminary and non-binding.”
Hamilton “Phil” Fox III, the chief prosecutor for the DC Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, told the board that Giuliani’s behavior “requires only one sanction, and that is the disbarment sanction.”
“What Mr. Giuliani did was use his legal license to undermine the legitimacy of a presidential election, to undermine the very premise of the democratic system that we all live in and that has existed in this country since the 18th century,” said Fox.
But Bernius questioned if the firing was extreme, noting that former DC administrative judge Roy Pearson Jr. was suspended from practicing law in the city for just 90 days when he called a DC dry cleaner for a missing pair of pants Sued for $54 million. This DC case garnered national attention.
Fox argued that in hearings last week Giuliani had “armed” his attorney’s license when he filed the lawsuit in Pennsylvania, which falsely alleged that the state’s November 2020 presidential election was riddled with fraud. Those claims, Fox said, were “baseless”.
He told the board Thursday that Giuliani has had an “excellent” career as a former federal prosecutor and former US attorney in New York. But “that was 20 years ago,” Fox said. “It’s like they’re two different people. I don’t know if something happened to Mr. Giuliani or what.”
Giuliani angrily called Fox’s claims “political” and of no merit.
“The fact that you take a different side in a case does not make you a traitor. I risked my life and risked it for democracy. I find it outrageous and personally offended that he is making a personal attack and that you, Mr. Chairman, are allowing him to do so,” Giuliani said.
During his testimony, Giuliani often downplayed his role in the lawsuit, claiming he did nothing wrong.
The Republican former mayor of New York told board members that other attorneys were responsible for the language in the lawsuit and that he had little time to thoroughly investigate the allegations himself before filing them. He claimed this was common practice, like Allegations in court cases are common investigated after cases were filed.
“You have to claim fraud with accuracy with what you have, with what’s available,” Giuliani said. “But upon discovery, you get the additional information. This was specific enough for this phase of the pleading. Therefore it is evidence and not a conclusion.”
“There was a conspiracy and he was the mastermind of it,” he said. “First we filmed, later we asked questions. Lawyers can’t do that.”
Giuliani’s lawsuit filed on behalf of Trump, was rejected by a judge. And a federal appeals court refused to let the campaign file a revised complaint.
Giuliani’s attorney, John Leventhal, a retired New York judge, argued that there was no legal basis for Giuliani to revoke his license to practice law since Trump’s challenge in Pennsylvania did not proceed. He said Thursday that this would “deter any advocacy” and that the board should consider a letter of reprimand or a private admonition.
Last year, the New York State Court of Appeals, on the recommendation of a disciplinary committee, temporarily suspended Giuliani’s license to practice law after finding that he had attempted to mislead judges, lawmakers and the public when he helped direct Trump’s challenge to the election results.
Giuliani has been licensed in the District since 1976, although his license was dormant when it was suspended due to allegations of impropriety.
After the DC Bar spent three days last week hearing testimony and closing arguments from both sides, the DC Bar Association allowed Giuliani to testify Thursday about his efforts to question witnesses in Philadelphia who claimed they were blocked from hearing the opening of the to see the ballot.
Giuliani said he interviewed about four or five people, but it was “very chaotic” at the polling stations in the hours after the election.
“It was on the verge of violence, with a lot of shouting,” Giuliani said with a light laugh. “It was like a Philadelphia Eagles football game.”
A decision by the panel is not expected until spring at the earliest, after both sides have submitted written statements. The panel then makes a final decision to the DC Bar Association, which directs its recommendation to the DC Court of Appeals, which will make a decision. The whole process can take a year or more.
In July, the Disciplinary Office of the DC Bar Association also brought ethics charges against Jeffrey Clark, a former Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department who worked on efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. In particular, the board argued that Clark participated in the dishonest behavior in writing a letter for the Justice Department to send to Georgia state officials, requesting that the state legislature call a special session to consider the votes in the presidential election.
Hearings in Clark’s case could start as early as next month.