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State Bar complaint filed against Ted Cruz

Good.

Not Ted Cruz

A group of lawyers want the State Bar of Texas to investigate Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for his “leading” role in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

Lawyers with the 65 Project, an organization aiming to hold attorneys accountable for trying to keep former President Donald Trump in power despite his reelection loss, filed an ethics complaint with the association Wednesday. It cites Cruz’s role in a lawsuit seeking to void absentee ballots, numerous claims he made about voter fraud, plus an attempt to stop four states from using 2020 election results to appoint electors — all of which failed.

“Mr. Cruz knew that the allegations he was echoing had already been reviewed and rejected by courts. And he knew that claims of voter fraud or the election being stolen were false,” the complaint says.

[…]

Cruz represented Pennsylvania Republicans in their efforts to cast out nearly all 2020 absentee ballots in their state, which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected. Cruz accused the state court of being “a partisan, Democratic court that has issued multiple decisions that were just on their face contrary to law.”

The complaint wants to see Cruz disciplined. It does not say how, though it mentions a New York appellate court’s suspension of Rudy Giuliani’s law license. Guiliani was one of Trump’s lawyers who also repeated false voter fraud claims.

Cruz also agreed to represent Trump in a Texas lawsuit aiming to bar Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin from using its election results. The complaint argues Cruz pushed forward with a frivolous claim, which the U.S. Supreme Court quickly denied.

Here’s the 65 Project webpage; the “65” refers to the “65 lawsuits based on lies to overturn the election and give Trump a second term” that were filed by “an army of Big Lie lawyers. You can see the complaint filed against Cruz here, and the tracker they have of other complaints here. There were several filed on March 7 of this year; the one filed against Cruz was the first since then. None have been resolved yet so it’s too soon to say how effective this group will be. The one thing I can say is that this group was not involved in any of the State Bar complaints against Ken Paxton. Here’s a Vanity Fair story dated March 8 with some background on the group and its members.

Will this work? The State Bar complaints against Paxton over his dangerous and frivolous lawsuit against four Biden-won states is proceeding, though the formal lawsuit that represents the next step has not yet been filed as far as I can tell. I’d say there’s a reasonable argument that Paxton was more directly involved in the seditious and unethical behavior than Cruz was, which may make the State Bar less receptive to the filers’ case, but he wasn’t just a bystander either. Given how long it’s taken the Paxton case to get to a resolution point I’d say don’t hold your breath waiting on something to happen with this one. If it does move forward, great. Hope for the best. But do please put your energy into beating Ted Cruz in his next election, and if he steps away from the Senate to run for President do what you can to elect a Democrat to replace him. That will ultimately have a much bigger effect.

One more thing: This NYT story is headlined “Group Seeks Disbarment of Ted Cruz Over Efforts to Overturn 2020 Election”. While the complaint lays out multiple alleged violations of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (TDPRC), it does not suggest a remedy. Instead, it merely asks that the State Bar investigate and “apply the standards set for lawyers within the TDRPC, and impose sanctions against Mr. Cruz for violating those requirements”. Certainly, based on the complaints against Paxton for similar behavior, having Cruz’s law license suspended would be on the table if the State Bar were to rule against him, but I presume there would be other options as well. We’ll see if and when it ever gets that far. TPM has more.

UPDATE: Texas Lawyer provides a bit more detail.

In Cruz’s case, the 65 Project alleges he agreed to act as a lawyer in litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court in two bogus cases, Kelly v. Pennsylvania and Texas v. Pennsylvania. Acting in tandem with Trump’s legal team, Cruz had a significant role in an “anti-democratic plot, intentionally amplifying false claims about the 2020 election on multiple occasions,” the complaint states.

The Texas v. Pennsylvania lawsuit, filed by Paxton and Assistant Attorney General Brent E. Webster, has to date resulted in a State Bar lawsuit against Webster in Williamson County’s 368th District Court. Also, Paxton acknowledged on May 6 that the bar would be filing suit against him.

The Commission for Lawyer Discipline’s petition in the Webster case is instructive in that it lays a roadmap for how the bar might proceed against Paxton and Cruz.

The Texas v. Pennsylvania suit, which also challenged the vote count in Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, alleged without evidence several forms of vote rigging.

“Respondent’s representations were dishonest. His allegations were not supported by any charge, indictment, judicial finding, and/or credible or admissible evidence, and failed to disclose to the court that some of his representations and allegations had already been adjudicated and/or dismissed in a court of law,” the commission’s petition states.

The filing against Webster refers to the bar rule against lawyers engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

See here for more on the Webster case. We’ll see if indeed the State Bar follows this roadmap.

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5 Comments

  1. Kibitzer says:

    BAR 101

    Unlike the American Bar Association (ABA), the State Bar of Texas (SBOT) is mandatory; a “closed shop” or monopoly operation, if you will: You have to be a member, and in good standing, to practice law in Texas state courts, except when you represent yourself (pro se), which is not considered the practice of law.

    The State Bar of Texas is mandatory. See Tex. Gov’t Code § 81.051(b). All licensed Texas attorneys, more than 120,000 as of May 2019, must join the Bar, which “is a public corporation and an administrative agency” controlled by the Supreme Court of Texas. Id. § 81.011(a), (c).

    See State Bar Act (Chapter 81 of the Texas Gov’t Code) here:
    https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/GV/htm/GV.81.htm

    One would expect the Texas Tribune to know the difference between a (voluntary) bar association and an integrated bar. Alas, no.

    Reference for gripe:

    Broke Park. ‘U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is the target of a bar association [sic] complaint over his role in undermining the 2020 election results.’ TEXAS TRIBUNE (May 18, 2022).

    Kudos to Kuff for posting the link to the actual complaint about Texas attorney Rafael Edward Cruz — addressed to “State Bar of Texas, Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel” — so folks don’t have to rely on the shoddy reporting by the self-described “quality” media and can evaluate the source material for themselves.

  2. Paper Plate Guy says:

    It will likely be dismissed as an inquiry. I read the complaint. It is entirely political and has very weak factual or legal basis. Mostly it’s a rant.

  3. Joel says:

    You wrote all that to complain – thrice – that the Trib used the word “association” instead of “integrated”?

    Yikes. Were that worth noting at all (it appears not to have any bearing on the fundamental issue being reported – if it had, maybe you could have led with that?), see how it took me one sentence?

  4. Kibitzer says:

    BYE, BYE, LICENSE TO TEACH, LITIGATE

    Okay Joel. Let Kibitzer take the bait and dumb it down a notch:

    If you get expelled from a club you previously decided to join, so what? Join another one or start your own.

    If you are a Texas lawyer and get “”expelled” from the SBOT, i.e. disbarred, your career as a lawyer is over. Period. And mostly likely everyplace else likewise thanks to reciprocal disclipline. And it don’t look good on your vitae/resume in the search for a non-law gig, not to mention a second career in an unrelated field.

    Assuming you get “only” suspended, you have to get off all your pending cases for the time being. Call it business interruption, if you will. Let’s just say it’s not good for the “goodwill”, or the personal brand, your standing in the community, and that’s in addition to the cashflow dwindling.

    Some, of course, like politicians, have other means to make a living, or remain on public funding.

    And the SCOTUS is/has its own bar, so they can presumably always make an exception, and allow an elsewhere-disbarred-lawyer-still-senator appear before them. But in regards to that component on the current compaint, Cruz didn’t (e)sign the petition in Texas v. Penn. Paxton did. And the case never got any face time.

    You are welcome for the additional gratuitious (no-cost-to-you) information.

    Miscellaneious websites have even more.

  5. […] Brent Webster, which will be litigated in Williamson County, and more recently a complaint against Ted Cruz that will presumably take some time to work its way through the system. That first 2020 election […]