- Rudy Giuliani has been suspended from practicing law in the state of New York.
- A court found “uncontroverted evidence” that he made “demonstrably false and misleading” election-related statements.
- It said his conduct “threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law.”
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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been suspended from practicing law in the state of New York pending further review, a new court filing on Thursday said.
The ruling said there was “uncontroverted evidence” that Giuliani “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large” in connection with former President Donald Trump’s failed attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.
“These false statements were made to improperly bolster respondent’s narrative that due to widespread voter fraud, victory in the 2020 United States presidential election was stolen from his client,” the ruling said.
“We conclude that respondent’s conduct immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law, pending further proceedings before the Attorney Grievance Committee,” it continued.
Giuliani was a fixture on conservative airwaves after the election, repeatedly claiming, without evidence, that Joe Biden won because of rampant voter and election fraud and that Trump was the rightful winner of the race.
As Trump’s lead defense attorney fighting to overturn the election, Giuliani filed several lawsuits seeking to nullify the results in battleground states that Biden won. All the suits were tossed out.
Nonpartisan election experts and cybersecurity professionals found that, contrary to Giuliani’s and Trump’s claims of malfeasance, the 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history.
Thursday’s ruling pointed to several false statements Giuliani had made that rose to the level of professional misconduct, all of which investigators and courts across the country have debunked:
- He claimed that more absentee ballots in Pennsylvania came in after the election than had been sent before it.
- During a court appearance in November related to Pennsylvania’s election results, Giuliani said his client, the Trump campaign, was pursuing a fraud claim when it was in fact making an equal-protection claim.
- Giuliani repeatedly alleged that anywhere from 8,021 to 30,000 dead people voted in Philadelphia.
He made “extensive and wide-ranging claims” casting doubt on the veracity of Georgia’s election results and suggesting that Dominion Voting Systems had engaged in election fraud.
- He claimed that tens of thousands of “underage voters illegally voted” in Georgia.
- Giuliani said that more than 2,500 felons voted illegally in Georgia.
- He claimed that anywhere from 800 to 6,000 dead people voted in Georgia.
- He alleged that security footage showed Georgia election officials illegally counting mail-in ballots.
- Giuliani claimed that “illegal aliens” voted in Arizona.
The Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, which covers Manhattan, had filed a petition seeking Giuliani’s “immediate suspension” from practicing in New York in light of his election crusade.
The AGC pointed to several provisions of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct that prohibit lawyers from knowingly making false statements or engaging in “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” inside and out of the courtroom.
Giuliani, in turn, accused the AGC of violating his First Amendment right to free speech. The appellate division for the First Judicial Department in the state Supreme Court rejected Giuliani’s claim.
“He does not attack the constitutionality of the particular disciplinary rules; he seemingly claims that they are unconstitutional as applied to him,” the ruling said.
The court noted that previous cases had found that “speech by an attorney is subject to greater regulation than speech by others,” because lawyers are “an intimate and trusted and essential part of the machinery of justice.”
Giuliani also claimed that if he’d made false statements about the election results, he hadn’t done so knowingly. Addressing that argument, the court said that while it’s usually necessary to prove an element of knowingness in connection with attorney misconduct, Giuliani must “demonstrate that there is some legitimate dispute about whether the statement is false or whether the statement was made by him without knowledge it was false.”
“Conclusory or vague arguments will not create a controverted issue as to whether there has been misconduct,” the ruling said, adding that Giuliani’s “references to affidavits he has not provided, or sources of information he has not disclosed or other nebulous unspecified information, will not prevent the Court from concluding that misconduct has occurred.”
In this case, the court said, the AGC proved that there was an “immediate threat to the public interest” and that Giuliani’s interim suspension was warranted.
“We find that there is evidence of continuing misconduct, the underlying offense is incredibly serious, and the uncontroverted misconduct in itself will likely result in substantial permanent sanctions at the conclusion of these disciplinary proceedings,” the ruling said.