A Washington, D.C. attorney discipline panel has set a hearing for October on charges that Rudy Giuliani violated attorney ethics rules during litigation related to the 2020 election.
At a scheduling session Thursday, D.C. Bar Board of Professional Responsibility hearing committee chair Robert Bernius said he’s planning to open the hearing Oct. 24 and has set aside two weeks for the proceeding, although a bar official pressing the ethics complaint against Giuliani said the case challenging his D.C. law license should take only two days to present.
However, Bernius turned down a request from Giuliani’s attorneys to truncate the proceedings each day to allow the former New York mayor and federal prosecutor to host his daily radio talk show on WABC-AM. Giuliani’s team said the radio show is currently his only source of income since his right to practice law in New York was suspended by a court there in June 2021.
Bernius, a litigator with the D.C. office of Nixon Peabody, said cutting off the hearing at 2 P.M. each day to allow Giuliani to host his 3 P.M. show would prolong the overall length of the bar proceeding and pose challenges for the court reporters who transcribe the sessions.
Last month, the D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel brought formal ethics charges against Giuliani over his handling of an unsuccessful federal court challenge in Pennsylvania shortly after the 2020 presidential election. The complaint said Giuliani lacked evidence to support his claims of fraud in the presidential contest there and that his handling of the matter interfered with the administration of justice.
Chief Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox previewed his case Thursday, arguing that giving inadequate access to observers during the vote count did not represent an adequate basis for Giuliani to allege outright fraud, as he did at the November federal court hearing in Williamsport, Pa.
“That is not evidence of fraud,” Fox said during Thursday’s scheduling session, held by videoconference. “At best, that’s opportunity to commit fraud, but it’s not fraud. I do think this hearing should not be diverted from what I think is the main issue: whether or not there is any evidence of actual fraud that was committed.”
One of Giuliani’s attorneys, Barry Kamins, also hinted Thursday that the former mayor’s defense will be that he joined the case at the last minute and had to take at face value what he was told by local attorneys.
“He came in at the 11th hour,” Kamins said. “He depended on other lawyers. He depended on information he was given and we all know that, in election matters, things happen quickly.”
Penalties for bar rules violations can range from a reprimand to a suspension to disbarment. The hearing set for October before a bar hearing committee is just the first stage of the process, which then goes to the full bar discipline board and to the D.C. Court of Appeals.