I think it’s safe to say most people like a good mystery. The disappearance of D.B. Cooper, the unidentified interstellar interloper known as ‘Oumuamua, the real identity of Lady G—all good mysteries with no clear answers. Seldom, however, do we admire a bad mystery. The continued practice of law by one Rudolph William Louis Giuliani (a.k.a., “Rudy”) and other high-profile Republicans is one such bad mystery.
This mystery has dogged others too. An article from Fortune stated the situation simply: “Under professional codes of conduct across the country, attorneys are prohibited from engaging in ‘frivolous’ conduct, and legal ethics generally prohibit lawyers from bringing claims for ‘improper purposes,’ such as undermining an election . . . [and] being an attorney means ‘ultimately standing up for and promoting the rule of law as a core democratic value.’” In other words, attorneys aren’t supposed to act like Rudy. And yet many have. Indeed, the Fortune article goes on to tell of how 126 House Republicans signed onto a lawsuit that sought to overturn the 2020 election and, you guessed it, many of those Republicans are attorneys.
The same story could be told about Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who, believe it or not, went to Harvard Law School and Yale Law School respectively (ample evidence that intelligence, or at least the ability to test well, does not a critical thinker make). They were no doubt complicit in the January 6 insurrection and, in my view, should be disbarred. Many others think so too.
But will any of these unethical Republican attorneys actually get disbarred? I don’t know, but I’m not optimistic. The problem is the amount of political theater surrounding these pettifoggers. If state bars begin to appear as acting political, there could be serious backlash. It seems to me that it’s mostly about state bars not wanting to fire the first shot, as it were. But they should. For those individuals for whom there is sufficient evidence to justify disbarment, disbarment should be without question.
Q.E.D.: Rudy Giuliani. Rudy has, without question, violated ethics rules up the wazoo. He needs to be disbarred. The veil of political influence cannot be so thick as to be impenetrable under any circumstances, let alone when one has so brazenly violated ethics rules and at such a high level of play. The legitimacy of the legal practice is imperiled by state bars that refuse to disbar attorneys for patent ethics violations. At the very least it begets further injustice, and at the very worst, it breeds more Rudys.