Reacting to the guilty pleas entered by former Donald Trump attorney Sidney Powell in Georgia, a prominent group of Texas lawyers is urging the State Bar of Texas to follow a compulsory-discipline rule against her.
In an open letter to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel on Monday, 17 attorneys—including three past presidents of the bar and two former Texas Supreme Court Grievance Oversight Committee members—noted the offenses to which she admitted guilt “require imposition of compulsory discipline,” according to the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure.
Chuck Herring, a former Grievance Oversight Committee member and signatory to the letter, said the letter is not a formal grievance because the Texas Legislature changed the rules to limit who could file a grievance to judges and lawyers on a case and other persons with a cognizable individual interest.
“Exactly what that standard means is still somewhat uncertain,” Herring said. “We’ve primarily relied on the Compulsory Discipline procedure set out in Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Rule 8.01 says, in part, that ‘When an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas … has been placed on probation for an Intentional Crime …, the Chief Disciplinary Counsel shall initiate a Disciplinary Action seeking compulsory discipline,’” Herring said.
On Oct. 19, Powell pleaded guilty in Georgia’s Fulton County superior court. The criminal counts pertinent to a case against her in Texas included efforts to illegally tamper with electronic ballot markers and tabulating machines; possess official ballots outside polling places; taking property of and removing voter data owned by or controlled by Dominion Voting Systems Corp., and the examination of personal voter data.
The attorneys letter states in part, “In her guilty plea, Ms. Powell admitted her factual guilt to each of the six counts in the indictment. Those crimes are grave offenses. Even if this matter did not qualify for compulsory discipline—which we strongly believe it does—the underlying facts that Ms. Powell admitted show that she is subject to discipline under the standard disciplinary procedure applicable to non-compulsory cases.”
The state bar initiated an ethics investigation in March 2022 based on Powell’s actions related to the 2020 election against Powell and Powell elected to have the administrative hearing in a district court. On Feb. 22, the trial judge dismissed the state bar’s complaint based on Powell’s “no evidence” defense. That case is currently on appeal before the Fifth District Court of Appeals as Case No. 05-23-00497-CV.
See here, here, and here for the background on the original State Bar lawsuit against Powell. I’m obviously no expert here, but she did indeed plead guilty to multiple crimes, and is still potentially on the hook for federal charges, in part because of what she has admitted to in court. Seems like a reasonable cause for action to me. We’ll see if the State Bar agrees.