Professor Bruce Green shared his expert opinion on the legal ethics surrounding the cases filed by President Trump’s lawyers, regarding election vote counts, with Law360.
Even in this era of extreme political polarization, don’t hold your breath waiting for attorney ethics enforcers to target President Donald Trump’s lawyers for trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election win in court.
Despite plenty of criticism in the profession of wild claims from Rudy Giuliani and others that a vast Democratic fraud “flipped” the election for Biden, bar counsels are, as a rule, loath to police attorney speech — even when hyperbole veers into spurious attacks and conspiracy mumbo-jumbo.
Bar counsels, who run the offices that prosecute ethics cases, typically focus on concrete instances of clients harmed by lawyer malfeasance. They are highly resistant to charging any lawyer pressing a political agenda for a willing client, inside or outside of court.
Bruce Green, who directs the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University School of Law, noted that Judge Brann’s sharp dismissal of the Pennsylvania case didn’t mention a Rule 11 violation, referring to the rule requiring lawyers to investigate a claim and obtain evidence before filing a case. State court judges hearing other Trump challenges have not deemed the cases frivolous or filed in bad faith, nor have they raised the issue of sanctions against Trump lawyers.
That constitutes an “implicit finding” that the suits, filed under tight deadlines after a close election, met at least a minimum standard of validity for the judges, Green said. That judicial review also took the onus off bar counsels who might feel to pursue an ethics case.