Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, speaks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 7, 2020.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters
A New York court suspended Rudy Giuliani from practicing law in the state on Thursday, citing his “false and misleading statements” about the electoral defeat of former President Donald Trump.
The suspension, which will take effect immediately, is a blow to 77-year-old Giuliani, a former New York mayor who was once a senior Justice Department official and US attorney in Manhattan.
It also happens that criminal investigations against Giuliani in connection with his work in Ukraine are being carried out by the same federal prosecutor’s office.
Since Trump’s defeat in November, the former president and his lawyer have made false claims about the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s election victory. They claim, without evidence, that Trump was cheated of a victory by widespread electoral fraud in key states.
Giuliani’s false statements about the Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania votes – all states where Biden won – were cited in the crushing 33-page suspension order issued by the Appeals Division of the First Judicial Department of the New York State Supreme Court. This division includes the Bronx and Manhattan, where Giuliani’s law firm is located.
The suspension, ordered the day before his 52nd anniversary as a licensed attorney in New York, was requested by the Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department.
The court order found that “a temporary suspension is a serious remedy available only in situations where there is an immediate need to protect the public from” violations of the professional code by a lawyer.
The court flatly denied Giuliani’s claims that the investigation into his conduct in representing Trump after the 2020 election violated his right to freedom of expression in the First Amendment.
“We conclude that there is undisputed evidence that the defendant, in his capacity as attorney for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed re-election attempt, has made demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the made public in 2020 ”, it says in the order.
The court also said that Giuliani’s “false statements were made to inappropriately support respondent’s account that widespread electoral fraud stole his client’s victory in the 2020 presidential election in the United States”.
“We conclude that the defendant’s conduct immediately jeopardizes the public interest and warrants a temporary suspension of the legal practice pending further proceedings before the attorney’s complaints committee.”
Examples of conduct cited in the warrant included Giuliani’s repeated false claims to a Pennsylvania federal judge after Election Day that Trump’s campaign “pursued an allegation of fraud” in an election-related lawsuit “when it was undeniably not the case. “
Instead, according to the order, the campaign raised an equivalent claim to protection that was “not based on fraud at all”.
Another example cited by the order was the repeated assertion by Giuliani, in an effort to discredit election results, that “the dead in Philadelphia ‘voted'”.
Giuliani claimed at various times that the ballot papers of 8,021 dead were cast, “while he also gave the figure as 30,000”.
“As an anecdotal figurehead to prove this point, he repeatedly stated that the famous heavyweight boxer Joe Frazier continued to vote years after his death.
Indeed, the ruling added, “The public records filed on this motion clearly show that the defendant’s testimony is false. Public records show that Pennsylvania formally suspended Mr. Frazier’s voting rights on February 8, 2012, three months after his death. “
Giuliani had also falsely claimed on several occasions that Pennsylvania had received more postal ballot papers than the state sent out prior to the election.
In response to the court’s inquiry, the ruling stated that Giuliani had “not denied that his factual statement that only 1.8 million postal ballots had been requested was untrue”.
“His defense is that he did not knowingly make this false statement,” the order reads. “Respondent claims he relied on an unidentified member of his’ team ‘who’ accidentally picked up information from the Pennsylvania website that incorrectly listed the information.”
But the court found, “There is simply no evidence to support this statement. For example, there is no affidavit from this alleged team member who is not by name or otherwise identified, nor is there a copy of the website that allegedly provided false information. “
Giuliani’s suspension is temporary pending the outcome of a full formal disciplinary hearing.
In a statement, his lawyers said: “We are disappointed with the Appeals Department’s decision to suspend Mayor Giuliani before granting a hearing on the alleged issues.”
“This is unprecedented as we believe our client is not currently a threat to the public interest,” said a statement by John Leventhal and Barry Kamins, both retired judges.
“We believe that once the issues are fully investigated at a hearing, Mr. Giuliani will be reinstated as a valued member of the legal profession which he has served so well in his many roles for so many years.”
The complaint to the Attorney Grievance Committee was filed by Manhattan Democratic Senator Brad Hoylman. “I’m happy” about the suspension, he said.
“The lawyer profession is sacred and noble,” Hoylman said in a statement. “And there can be no place in the profession for those who try to undermine and destroy the rule of law, as Rudy Giuliani has so blatantly done.”
The suspension order was issued hours before a lawyer from Giuliani appeared in Washington federal court for a hearing on his offer to dismiss a $ 1.3 billion libel suit against him by Dominion Voting Systems.
Giuliani’s claims about Dominion were cited in the suspension order.
This voting machine company accuses Giuliani of “irreparable damage” to the business while “cashing in” the “big lie” that the Trump race was stolen by widespread fraud.
Giuliani’s attorney in the case filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in April, arguing in part that Dominion’s lawsuit had not been brought in accordance with due process standards.
Dominion has filed separate, multi-billion dollar defamation suits against MyPillow and the company’s pro-Trump CEO Mike Lindell and pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell.
Additional coverage from CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger