Lawyer loses ethics dismissal challenge to judge after failed election trial

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Signage is seen at the entrance to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, DC, US REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Court rules Erick Kaardal’s challenge premature
  • Kaardal’s lawsuit against Wisconsin and other voters sought to stop Pence from counting electoral votes
  • DC judge dismissed ‘baseless’ lawsuit

(Reuters) – A Minnesota lawyer lost his bid in a U.S. appeals court on Tuesday to block a lawyers’ ethics probe triggered by a federal judge who quickly dismissed his “baseless” and “quick-take” lawsuit attacking the 2020 elections.

The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit says attorney Erick Kaardal, a litigator with the Minneapolis-based law firm Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, acted too soon to challenge the judge’s dismissal of him to the federal court grievance committee in Washington, DC. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s dismissal did not suggest whether discipline should be imposed.

The appeals court called the dismissal “no different from an ordinary order from an agency opening an administrative investigation.” DC Circuit Judge David Tatel, writing for the unanimous panel, said such an agency order “commencement of enforcement proceedings is not reviewable.”

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Kaardal declined to comment on Tuesday. His lawyer, Channing Shor of Eccleston & Wolf, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Some lawyers in other cases that have contested the 2020 presidential election have also faced ethical issues. Last month, a US appeals court rejected an attempt by Sidney Powell and other attorneys to stay a trial judge’s sanctions order.

The DC Circuit panel, which included Circuit Judges Ketanji Brown Jackson and Gregory Katsas, expressed some skepticism about Kaardal’s claims during a hearing in December. Jackson, since appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, did not participate in Tuesday’s notice, a common practice for pending nominees.

Kaardal was the attorney for the Wisconsin Voters Alliance and other plaintiffs suing then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop him counting electoral votes that showed Joe Biden had won the race for the White House. Boasberg rejected a ban request from Pence.

“To call the underlying action in this case ambitious would be an understatement,” Tatel wrote in Tuesday’s decision.

The DC Circuit’s order said “a referral to the grievance committee does not determine whether an attorney will receive a penalty or what form that penalty may take.”

Kaardal will always have the opportunity to challenge any unfavorable decision of the grievance committee, the court said.

The case is Wisconsin Voters Alliance v. Harris, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, No. 21-5056.

For Erick Kaardal and Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson: Channing Shor and Justin Flint of Eccleston & Wolf

For amicus curiae: Matthew Etchemendy and Jeremy Marwell of Vinson & Elkins

Read more:

Texas regulators seek sanction for pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell

Appeals court says Sidney Powell can’t dodge non-monetary penalties

Lawyer who sued Pence faces dodgy DC Circuit panel over ethics issue

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