Saturday, September 30, 2023

NM Attorneys File Ethics Complaint Against Two Trump Lawyers Who Sought to Dismiss 2020 Election Certification

Disciplinary Board Has Refused to Investigate Initial Ethics Complaint


A group of New Mexico attorneys has re-filed an ethics complaint with the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of New Mexico asking it to investigate and discipline attorneys Mark J. Caruso and Michael Smith. Both Caruso and Smith represented former President Donald Trump in his attempt to reverse the 2020 Presidential election, in which Biden won New Mexico by 54.29 percent to 43.50 percent over Trump. The Disciplinary Board polices the ethics rules governing lawyers in New Mexico. 

The ethics complaint relates to a lawsuit the Trump lawyers filed in federal court on  December 14, 2020, seeking to nullify certification of duly elected electors while a group of  “fake” electors representing the Republican Party of New Mexico was asked to simultaneously appear at the Capitol in Santa Fe, requesting to be allowed entrance to vote. They were denied admission due to COVID-19 public health regulations.

Three days later, on December 17, these “fake” electors submitted  “certified” votes for Trump.

Last year, the original ethics complaint was filed against Caruso and Smith. At that time, the Disciplinary Board refused to investigate the attorneys. Since then, evidence of the “fake” electors and the apparent coordination of the attorneys with a national strategy to overturn the Presidential election has emerged. The Trump campaign’s activities related to the fake electors in six other states have received widespread media coverage. Trump's campaign voluntarily dismissed its federal lawsuit over New Mexico's absentee ballots and drop boxes in January of 2021.

According to the ethics complaint, "A growing body of new evidence gives reasonable cause to believe Mr. Caruso and Mr. Smith violated the Rules of Professional Responsibility and procedural and perhaps criminal provisions of the Election Code, we urge the Disciplinary Board to reopen the matter."

Attorney General Hector Balderas has referred the matter of the fake electors to the Department of Justice for investigation, and two of the five electors, Jewll Powdrell and Deborah W. Maestas, have been summoned to testify before the Jan. 6 bipartisan committee.

“We believe that Democracy will be best served by a formal public hearing on the activities of these two attorneys. As has always been true, sunshine is the best disinfectant.  New Mexicans need to have confidence that our elections are fair and that New Mexico attorneys will be held to the highest level of professional and ethical responsibility,” said John  V. Wertheim, counsel for the lawyers seeking the investigation. 

The full complaint and backup documentation are attached. 


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