Editors’ Note: Reposted from the New York Daily News, June 25, 2021. Many observers have been wondering about the antics of attorneys advocating bizarre election theories and the ethics of practicing law. This opinion catches the idea.
Words have consequences, especially for attorneys — like one Rudy Giuliani, who before Thursday had been licensed to practice law in New York since this very day in 1969. With that privilege came the responsibility to abide by the rules of professional conduct, which above all else requires truthfulness, especially in formal legal proceedings.
Rudy knew the rules, and he broke them again and again, spouting lies about the November election. Nor is this some case of broken windows ethical policing; the calumnies were as big as they come, about a subject as consequential as they come.
As the five-justice appellate panel found: He “repeatedly stated that in Pennsylvania, more absentee ballots came in during the election than were sent out before the election.” Totally false.
Appearing in federal court, Giuliani agreed with opposing counsel and co-counsel that he was alleging fraud. Later in the same proceeding, he claimed his complaint “doesn’t plead fraud.”
Giuliani repeatedly said dead people “voted” in Philadelphia, citing specific numbers between 8,021 and 30,000. All willful distortions.
At various times, Giuliani claimed tens of thousands of underage voters voted in Georgia. Wrote the court: “The Georgia Office of the Secretary of State undertook an investigation of this claim…The audit revealed that there were zero (0) underage voters in the 2020 election.”
“False statements intended to foment a loss of confidence in our elections and resulting loss of confidence in government generally damage the proper functioning of a free society. . . . Years ago, Giuliani told Oprah Winfrey, “I’ve always tried to be honest when communicating with people.” That man is dead and buried.
As the justices conclude: False statements intended to foment a loss of confidence in our elections and resulting loss of confidence in government generally damage the proper functioning of a free society. When those false statements are made by an attorney, it also erodes the public’s confidence in the integrity of attorneys admitted to our bar and damages the profession’s role as a crucial source of reliable information. It tarnishes the reputation of the entire legal profession and its mandate to act as a trusted and essential part of the machinery of justice.”
“Years ago, Giuliani told Oprah Winfrey, “I’ve always tried to be honest when communicating with people.” That man is dead and buried.