An appellate court suspended Rudy Giuliani from practicing law in NY on Thursday because he made false statements while trying to urge courts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss within the presidential race. An attorney disciplinary committee had asked the court to suspend Giuliani’s license on the grounds that he’d violated professional conduct rules as he promoted theories that the election was stolen through fraud. The court agreed and said the suspension should be immediate, albeit disciplinary proceedings aren’t yet complete because there was an “immediate threat” to the general public.
“The seriousness of respondent’s uncontroverted misconduct can’t be overstated,” the court wrote. “This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden.” Trump called the suspension a politically motivated “witch hunt,” while Giuliani said it had been a “disgrace” on his afternoon radio show. The court’s opinion, Giuliani said, was supported hearsay and “could are written by the Democratic National Committee.” “The bar association should give me a gift,” the Republican told listeners on WABC-AM. “I defended an unpopular client. I have been threatened with death. I’ve had an honest deal of my income removed. I’ve lost friends over it.”
“This is occurring to shut me up,” he added. “They want Giuliani quiet.” The ruling will prevent Giuliani from representing clients as a lawyer. The court held that Giuliani, as a lawyer for Trump, “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and therefore the public at large.” Giuliani, a former NY City mayor and U.S. attorney in Manhattan claimed the investigation violated his First Amendment right to free speech which he didn’t knowingly make false statements. The court rejected those arguments, noting that in Pennsylvania, Giuliani did not “provide a scintilla of evidence for any of the varying and wildly inconsistent numbers of dead people he factually represented voted in Philadelphia during the 2020 presidential election.”
“False statements intended to foment a loss of confidence in our elections and the resulting loss of confidence in government generally damage the right functioning of a free society,” the court wrote. Interim suspensions are often a precursor to disbarment but are typically “reserved for lawyers convicted of a criminal offense,” said Bruce Green, a former federal prosecutor who directs the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at the Fordham University School of Law. “It’s rarely wiped out cases involving lying lawyers.” Still, Giuliani is going to be allowed to fight the suspension and even call witnesses as a part of his challenge — a process that would take months to play out — and Giuliani’s attorneys said they expect him to be reinstated “once the problems are fully explored at a hearing.”
“He gets another day in court,” Green said. Giuliani was the first mouthpiece for Trump’s false claims of fraud after the 2020 vote, standing at a news conference ahead of 4 Seasons Total Landscaping outside Philadelphia on the day the race was involved Biden and saying they might challenge what he claimed was a huge conspiracy by Democrats. Lies around the election results helped push an angry mob of pro-Trump rioters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to prevent the certification of President Biden’s victory. Since that point, Republicans have used that mislead push stricter voting laws nationwide.
The suspension comes as Giuliani is under scrutiny by federal prosecutors over his interactions with figures in Ukraine while he was trying to urge that country to launch an investigation of Biden’s son. Federal agents raided Giuliani’s home and office in April, taking electronic devices including phones and computers. The investigation includes an examination of whether Giuliani was required to register as a far-off agent within the U.S. a number of the Ukrainian figures Giuliani was worked with were also curious about getting his help lobbying the Trump administration. Giuliani has said he’s innocent of any wrongdoing which the investigations are politically motivated.
Giuliani could also face consequences in Georgia, where he made statements to legislative committees casting doubt on the legitimacy of that state’s election that is cited within the NY court’s decision. Fulton County DA Fani Willis has opened a criminal investigation into potential attempts to influence the 2020 election in Georgia, including looking into “the making of false statements to state and native governmental bodies.” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who has come under fire from Trump and his allies for not taking steps to overturn the previous president’s loss within the state, saw vindication within the NY court’s decision.
“The judges recognized that the baseless conspiracy theories Giuliani repeated weren’t true and punished him for spreading lies, particularly about Georgia’s election,” he said Thursday. The suspension won’t affect Giuliani’s ability to act as a lobbyist or do security consulting, but will likely prevent him from practicing law in jurisdictions even beyond NY, said David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor. Giuliani would be obligated to inform other states about the suspension, he said, which “in all likelihood will cause them to mention,