By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press
SANTA FE, NM (AP) — Renewed efforts are underway to investigate and possibly sanction two lawyers who helped Donald Trump’s campaign challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election in New Mexico in the weeks leading up to the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol.
A group including former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez on Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to step in and ensure a public view investigation into the two lawyers who represented the Trump campaign for d possible breaches of standards of professional conduct.
The complaint cites possible conduct violations by New Mexico attorney Mark J. Caruso and another attorney, Michael Smith, who lists a Texas address and license under Washington law.
The state’s chief disciplinary attorney and chairman of the Disciplinary Board previously determined in confidential proceedings that there was no violation of the rules against frivolous litigation by Caruso and Smith.
Caruso said by email that he was confident the Supreme Court would support the previous findings, describing the charges as “political claims by NM Democratic lawyers.”
New lawsuit against attorneys highlights recent testimony at Congressional hearings on Jan. 6, including role of Santa Fe-based attorney John Eastman as chief architect of post-election plans of 2020 to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College results. The California State Bar is investigating whether Eastman violated that state’s law and ethics rules for attorneys.
Current President Joe Biden won the 2020 vote in New Mexico by about 11 percentage points, or nearly 100,000 ballots. But the Trump campaign still filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque that sought to invalidate mail-in ballots cast at the ballot box and stop certification of presidential voters in New Mexico.
New Mexico is among seven states where bogus voters submitted bogus electoral college certificates that declared Trump the true winner of the 2020 election. The new complaint says Caruso and Smith may have encouraged the bogus voters.
“The relief sought by Mr. Caruso and Mr. Smith was tantamount to asking the federal court to void the election in New Mexico, despite a landslide victory by President Biden,” the lawsuit filed by Chavez and five other New Mexico attorneys says. Mexico. “Given the seriousness of an attorney’s potential involvement in a conspiracy to nullify the 2020 election, the (New Mexico) Supreme Court, bar association, and electorate all need any decision, either to enforce discipline, either to exculpate Mr. Caruso and Mr. Smith, to demonstrate deliberation and thoroughness, in a non-confidential and public manner. »
The New Mexico Disciplinary Board’s office wrote in March that “the actions of Caruso and Smith may warrant public hearings in another forum, but not because of their actions within the bounds of rules of professional conduct.”
Last year, a New York appeals court suspended the attorney license of Rudy Giuliani, the trusted man for pushing Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election. The court said the attempt of Giuliani to discredit the election was so blatant that it posed “an immediate threat” to the public.
The Texas Bar Association is seeking to punish state Attorney General Ken Paxton for citing professional misconduct in his failed efforts to nullify the 2020 presidential election based on false allegations of fraud.
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