John Eastman may be on his way to losing his law license, but that’s not his only legal problem. For one thing, the MAGA lawyer is still a defendant in the Georgia election subversion case. So it’s worth considering how his professional status might impact his outcome in Georgia.
With that in mind, three of Georgia’s four guilty pleas to date have come from lawyers, namely them Prosecutors have agreed that the defendants committed the crimes They pleaded guilty to not being morally tainted, a condition the defendants apparently wanted to give them the best possible chance of keeping their licenses. The attorneys who agreed to no-prison deals are Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro and Jenna Ellis. The first defendant to plead guilty, bail bondsman Scott Hall, made similar comments in his plea deal, apparently hoping to retain his own professional license.
As for the 15 remaining defendants in the extortion case, there are still lawyers among them, including Eastman, although his professional future is currently in jeopardy. Politico reported that a California judge made a “preliminary finding” on Thursday that Eastman violated professional ethics when he supported Donald Trump in his attempt to overturn the 2020 election. The former president is also a co-defendant in Georgia, and both have pleaded not guilty.
Eastman’s recently reported bar problems prompted MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance to comment: “If John Eastman is disbarred in the case, that will incentivize him (or would incentivize a rational person) to plead and cooperate in the criminal case.” , to avoid a prison sentence (since… he’s already lost his driver’s license).
It’s also possible that revoking Eastman’s law license would all but guarantee that he will face trial in Georgia. That is, to the extent that obtaining his license would otherwise be a factor in plea bargaining – which appears to have been the case in other cases – eliminating that factor could reduce the likelihood of a settlement. He wishes there was one less thing the prosecutor’s office could offer help with.
Of course, that says nothing about whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants to make a deal with Eastman. In fact, he is among the remaining defendants who reportedly did not receive any offers. That’s not too surprising, since prosecutors may rank him higher in the alleged criminal conspiracy and also because he doesn’t yet have a trial date that could serve as motivation for negotiations, as we’ve seen with the three attorneys’ pleadings in individual cases who were about to go to trial.
And if Eastman loses his driver’s license, far from punishing him – as Ellis said in her tearful plea – it could lead him to escalate his culpability in the criminal case. With that in mind, consider this from Politico’s report on Eastman’s legal proceedings:
The bar’s senior attorney, Duncan Carling, also pressed Eastman for his opinion on the recent plea deal with co-defendant Jenna Ellis, a lawyer who admitted to orchestrating false statements about election fraud to Georgia lawmakers in 2020. Eastman said her plea deal – which was linked to her role in a Dec. 3, 2020, hearing by Republican lawmakers in Georgia, at which Eastman also appeared as a key witness – had no impact on his ongoing views on 2020 voter fraud, he said .
Time will tell whether Eastman follows the path of Ellis and the other lawyers who pleaded guilty in Georgia. As noted above, there are some reasons to doubt that this will be the case, even if the requests made so far were not entirely expected. Rather, they were driven at least in part by both sides waiting for an uncertain outcome on the eve of the trial. Whether or not Eastman, who has not yet set a trial date, keeps his driver’s license, his fate — and that of his remaining co-defendants — may only become clearer given jury selection.
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