BREAKING: In Landmark Accountability Victory, John Eastman Now Faces Permanent Disbarment Over His Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election

CA Bar Court Rules Eastman Is Ineligible to Practice Law, Recommends Permanent Disbarment Following Five-Month Trial; States United Filed Initial Complaint in 2021

Published March 27, 2024

Los Angeles, CA — The States United Democracy Center released the following statement in response to the State Bar Court of California’s recommendation that Trump attorney John Eastman should be permanently disbarred. Eastman will officially become ineligible to practice law in California in three days, according to the ruling. The decision follows an ethics complaint States United filed against Eastman for his effort to help Trump overturn the 2020 election results, which helped lead to 11 disciplinary charges from the California Bar and a 35-day trial last year.

Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center:

“This is a big deal. In the fight to protect democracy and the rule of law, consequences are imperative. When he helped Donald Trump try to overthrow the results of a free and fair election, John Eastman put his personal agenda above the decision of American voters. He broke his oath to uphold the Constitution, and he betrayed the legal profession. As a result, a judge has now ruled that John Eastman is ineligible to practice law and put him up for permanent disbarment. These are among the most serious sanctions a lawyer can receive, and John Eastman deserves them.”

Christine P. Sun, Senior Vice President of Legal at the States United Democracy Center:

“This is a crucial victory in the effort to hold accountable those who tried to overturn the 2020 election. After hearing from almost two dozen witnesses over a 35-day trial, the court found that John Eastman violated his ethical duties to uphold the constitution. We are pleased that our ethics complaint helped lay the groundwork for the court’s finding that Eastman should be permanently disbarred. This decision sends an unmistakable message: No one is above the law—not presidents, and not their lawyers.

“This is a major accountability milestone. And it is not the only investigation or trial that Eastman is facing. He is a criminal defendant in the Georgia election interference case and an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal election interference case. Other criminal cases, investigations, and bar disciplinary efforts are still underway—for Eastman and his allies in the plot to threaten our democracy. Every time a prosecutor, a grand jury, or a state bar stands up for free and fair elections, our democracy grows stronger.”

States United’s initial bar complaint was signed by 25 bipartisan signatories, including former federal and California state supreme court judges, former Republican officials, leading law professors, and the George W. Bush and Obama White House ethics advisors. It offered evidence that Eastman violated his obligations as an attorney by filing frivolous claims, making false statements, and engaging in deceptive conduct during the attempt to keep Donald Trump in power following his 2020 election loss. This included Eastman’s work in the Texas v. Pennsylvania lawsuit, his role in provoking the crowd at Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally, and the plan he implemented, without any legal or factual basis, to pressure then-Vice President Pence to throw out valid electoral votes and disenfranchise millions of Americans.

States United continued to submit supplemental materials to the California Bar as new information on Eastman’s conduct came to light. This included Pence’s then-Chief Counsel Greg Jacob’s draft op-ed calling for an investigation into Eastman, as well as details on conversations Eastman had alongside Rudy Giuliani to pressure 300+ state legislators to decertify their states’ electors. Meanwhile, Eastman doubled down on his lies about the 2020 election, even while his disciplinary trial was ongoing.

Next Steps:

  • Either party may request review of the court’s decision by the State Bar Court’s Review Department. In most cases, the parties would have 30 days after the judge’s order to request that review. Then, either party may seek review of the State Bar Court’s decision by the Supreme Court of California.
  • If no party seeks a review of the decision, the State Bar Court’s recommendation is sent to the Supreme Court of California within 30 days. The state Supreme Court will then accept the disciplinary recommendation to make it final, as long as it is consistent with the official standards for attorney sanctions.

Additional Work: States United also filed an ethics complaint against Eastman in Washington, D.C. Our work to hold other Trump lawyers accountable includes:

  • States United filed an ethics complaint against Jenna Ellis, which resulted in her public censure last year. In light of her guilty plea in the Georgia election interference case, States United sent another letter to the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (OARC), with the support of Lawyers Defending American Democracy (LDAD), calling for Ellis’s disbarment. OARC has since filed four additional charges against Ellis.
  • States United and LDAD teamed up to send a letter to the Texas Bar seeking Sidney Powell’s disbarment following her guilty plea in Georgia.


About the States United Democracy Center

The States United Democracy Center is a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections. We connect state officials, law enforcement leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy. For more information, visit statesuniteddemocracy.org.