Dershowitz Strongly Criticizes NY Panel for Taking Giuliani's Law License
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. (Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz says a New York court was wrong to suspend Rudy Giuliani’s law license.
“I taught legal ethics for 35 years at Harvard Law school… I’ve never seen a case where a lawyer was essentially disbarred… without a hearing," Dershowitz said Sunday during an appearance on “The Cats Roundtable."
'The most basic concept of due process is you don’t deprive somebody of their living, of their freedom, of their ability to work without a hearing. And the criteria under which they suspended his law license is so vague. It says in the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law to a third person. In other words, if he goes on… TV… and he makes a statement which turns out to be false, and he had reason to believe it was false, he could be disbarred. Do you know how many lawyers we’d have left if we applied that standard across the board? …[W]e have a case after case after case where prosecutors, defense attorneys, lawyers of every kind, have made statements… which turned out to be untrue, and they’re never disbarred. And certainly not without a hearing. This is a first. …[T]he atmosphere is such today that if you defended President Trump in anyway, they’re out to get you. And they’re certainly out to get Rudy Giuliani."
Giuliani's law license in New York state was suspended Thursday as a state appeals court found he had lied in arguing that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from his client, former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Speaking to host John Catsimatidis, Dershowitz said the decision was political, adding that Giuliani was essentially disbarred without due process and that the license was suspended for very vague criteria.
“If this were a non-political case and there were these statements made — and the vast majority of the statements cited by the appellate division were statements that were made outside of court — statements that were made on television shows," Dershowitz said.
"[T]he idea of holding lawyers to this standard of truth telling when they’re on television is a whole new ballgame. It will chill free speech. It will chill advocacy. …[L]awyers puff all the time. …[W]e have to know what the standards are because this really endangers due process, the adversary system, and freedom of speech.”
Dershowitz also said the decision to strip Giuliani of his law license was selective and political, telling Catsimatidis that the words “equal justice” are mortally wounded, adding “I don’t think we’re seeing equal justice for all. I think we’re seeing selective justice. When the prosecutor runs for office, like the attorney general of New York [when she] ran for office on the promise that she will get Donald Trump — is that equal justice? Or is that show me the man and I’ll find you the crime?”
Dershowitz also warned that the ruling could be a harbinger to something much worse.
“[W]hether you’re a Democrat or a conservative or a liberal or progressive… you should be concerned about this Giuliani decision," he said.
"Today it’s used against Giuliani. Tomorrow it will be used against radical lawyers on the left. It will be used against other conservative lawyers. It will be used against Democrats. It will be used against Republicans. …[T]hat’s what happens in banana republics. That’s what happens in tyrannical regimes. …[A]s one of the dictators in South America once said, ‘For my friends everything. For my enemies the law.’ You can use the law as a weapon of oppression.”
Audio of the full interview can be found here.