The State Bar of California wants to strip a prominent attorney of his license to practice law for the crime of advising former President Donald Trump.
If the presiding judge in attorney John Eastman’s disbarment trial is any indication, things do not look good.
Data from the Federal Election Commission show that Bar Court Judge Yvette Roland has a lengthy history of donating hundreds and even thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns.
The data, for instance, show a March 30, 2023, receipt date for the judge’s $250.00 donation to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign in California. She also donated more than $5,000 to Barack Obama’s 2008 primary and general election campaigns.
According to a 2014 news release issued by her then-law firm Duane Morris, Roland was appointed bar court judge by then-Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (a Democrat, naturally).
A judge’s party affiliation and political preferences do not necessarily preclude honest application of the law.
In fact, our entire judicial system, imperfect as it is, rests on the belief that judges and law-enforcement officials will transcend politics in pursuit of justice.
Experience, however, has taught Trump supporters to scoff at the notion of equal justice under the law when politics is involved.
Consider what is at issue in this case.
The Arizona Sun Times, a conservative online news site, reported that during the first week of the Eastman disbarment trial, the bar attorneys argued that “Eastman provided bad advice to President Trump” by suggesting that the-Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to reject disputed electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election.
That is the extent of the bar association’s argument for disbarment. Eastman gave his client legal advice based on an interpretation of the U.S. Constitution with which the state bar — in this case at least — disagrees.
The Sun Times quoted First Amendment attorney Mark Fitzgibbons on the state bar’s true motives: “They want to intimidate lawyers so they don’t work for MAGA or conservative candidates and causes.”
Law professor Timothy A. Canova agrees. In an essay published Thursday by The Federalist
Canova, who described himself as a former “progressive Democrat,” added that “Hatred for Trump has been used, often cynically by people who should know better, to justify all kinds of wrongs by the haters.”
The state bar’s “persecution of Eastman,” as Canova called it, is shocking but not surprising.
As a former professor of early U.S. history, I am astonished that Eastman’s constitutional reasoning, which I regard as plausible if not compelling, should serve as the basis for a disbarment hearing.
On the other hand, as an American citizen who has lived through the last seven years, I am surprised by nothing.
I will not be surprised, therefore, if Judge Roland proves complicit in the state bar’s persecution of Eastman.
Regardless of how the judge behaves in this case, the present question has nothing to do with her personally. The question for Trump supporters, as it should be for all Americans, is simple:
Perhaps Judge Roland will prove different. Perhaps she will place the law and the U.S. Constitution above raw hatred and revenge.
Based on recent history, however, we have reason to expect another travesty of justice.