Supreme Court declines to hear case from Trump attorney involving election interference | Courthouse News Service
Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Supreme Court declines to hear case from Trump attorney involving election interference

As the justices took the bench for the first time since June, they denied a petition from John Eastman over emails he was ordered to produce to the House Jan. 6 committee.

WASHINGTON (CN) — As the Supreme Court began its new term Monday, the justices declined to hear several cases, including one from former Trump attorney John Eastman over emails he was ordered to disclose to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

Eastman filed a petition for certiorari in April, arguing that a federal court in California wrongly ordered him to produce the emails while his motion for an emergency stay was still pending in the Ninth Circuit. He requested that the documents not be accessed by the House committee until the pending stay motion was ruled upon.

"Instead of honoring that request, the Select Committee accessed and downloaded the documents for its own internal review," attorney Anthony Caso wrote in Eastman's petition.

According to the petition, the committee then filed an unredacted pleading containing the link to a Dropbox folder with the confidential documents. Reporters following the case were able to immediately access the confidential documents, rendering Eastman's appeal moot. Attorneys representing the committee asserted to the Ninth Circuit that their publication of the Dropbox link was "inadvertent."

Caso claims that the appeal should not have become moot, because Eastman's production of the email documents was not a "voluntary" act and that he was strictly complying with the lower court’s order.

The justices did not provide a reason for denying Eastman's petition but noted that Justice Clarence Thomas "took no part in the consideration or decision" of the petition.

Thomas, who is under fire over ethical standards, faced criticism for not recusing himself from a separate Jan. 6-related case because his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, expressed support for former President Trump and his false claims of widespread election fraud.

Last year, U.S. District Judge David Carter reasoned that although the emails at issue fell within the scope of the attorney-client or work product privileges, they were subject to the “crime-fraud” exception.

The Bill Clinton appointee concluded that four of Eastman's emails suggested that a "primary goal" of submitting a court filing was "to delay or otherwise disrupt" the Jan. 6 congressional vote to confirm Joe Biden's electoral victory. The judge ruled that another four emails "demonstrate an effort by President Trump and his attorneys to press false claims in federal court for the purpose of delaying the January 6 vote."

The Trump attorney, who is facing potential disbarment in California and nine criminal charges in Georgia over his and several others' efforts to overturn the former president's loss in the 2020 election, argued that the court's crime-fraud holding was “clearly erroneous,” when "viewed in the context of numerous privileged communications."

"The crime-fraud ruling of the District Court imposes a stigma not only on Petitioner, but also on his former client, the former President of the United States and current candidate for the presidency in 2024," Caso wrote in Eastman's petition.

Caso said he is disappointed in the high court’s decision to not correct the lower court’s “clear violation of its Munsingwear doctrine, which requires vacating lower court decisions that have become moot, through no fault of the party exercising his right to an appeal.”

He added: “But we also acknowledge that the Supreme Court is not a Court of mere error correction.”

In December, the House select committee recommended that the Justice Department investigate and potentially prosecute Eastman for impeding an official proceeding of the U.S. government, and for conspiring to defraud the United States. Eastman is believed to be one of the six unnamed co-conspirators listed in the Justice Department’s indictment of Trump for trying to subvert the 2020 election.

The committee wrote in its executive report that "the evidence shows that Eastman knew in advance of the 2020 election that Vice President Pence could not refuse to count electoral votes on January 6th.” It added that Eastman was "repeatedly" warned that his plan was "illegal and 'completely crazy,' and would 'cause riots in the streets," but continued to assist Trump's "pressure campaign."

Those same pressure tactics on Pence to reject the official Democratic electors in multiple swing states in favor of “alternate” Trump electors, are at the center of the racketeering and other related charges Eastman faces in Georgia.

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Categories / Government, Politics

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