As the country is watching mounting evidence of misconduct against former President Donald Trump and his advisors in the Jan. 6 Congressional hearings, a group of New Mexico attorneys have filed a request for an investigation and sanctions into the conduct of two former Trump attorneys with the New Mexico Supreme Court for their role in trying to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election. New Mexico has been referred to repeatedly, both in testimony and memoranda in the national hearings.
New Mexico attorneys Mark Caruso and Michael Smith initiated a lawsuit in federal court in Albuquerque on December 14, 2020, requesting that the court delay the vote and/or invalidate the certification of New Mexico’s electors. On the same day, a group of “fake” electors, appointed by NMGOP Chairman Steve Pearce, showed up at the State Capitol and attempted to falsely cast New Mexico’s electoral ballots in favor of Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote in New Mexico by 11 percent. The relief that Caruso and Smith requested as part of a national strategy hatched by Santa Fe resident and Trump personal attorney John Eastman to overturn the presidential election.
In court filings earlier this week, Eastman says that federal agents seized his cell phone last week after he left a Santa Fe restaurant with his wife. That same day law enforcement officials conducted similar activity around the country as part of broadening probes into efforts by Trump allies to overturn the election. Eastman, who last year resigned his position as a law professor at Chapman University has been a person of interest in the Congressional hearings but has not yet been called as a witness.
Eastman pushed for Vice President Mike Pence to deviate from his ceremonial role and halt the certification of the electoral votes, a step Pence had no legal power to take and refused to attempt.
The group of New Mexico attorneys initially filed a disciplinary complaint in February 2021 against Caruso and Smith, in the immediate aftermath of the January 6 attack on the Capitol and then renewed their complaint in February of this year. The complaints were dismissed by the Disciplinary Board of the New Mexico Supreme Court which is charged with overseeing disciplinary and ethics complaints. The Board has also refused to do an investigation.
Since then, new evidence has come to light focusing a spotlight on the role of Caruso and Smith as part of a national scheme to overturn the election in seven states including New Mexico. Following the release of a list of Republican electors who certified fake election certificates declaring that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico, Attorney General Hector Balderas referred the case to the feds.
The rogue electors sent their fake certification on Dec. 14, 2020, to Congress and the National Archives. They didn’t have the backing of any elected officials like a governor or secretary of state, who certify authentic election results.
The group of lawyers who filed the petition is now asking the state Supreme Court, which has oversight over all licensed New Mexico attorneys to appoint a Special Assistant to independently investigate collusion between Caruso and Smith with the fake electors. They are also asking that the results be released to the public.
“Evidence to date indicates that the baseless Trump lawsuit filed in the federal court in Albuquerque was part of a national scheme to manufacture disputes over fake electors in multiple states to overturn the Presidential election. The public has a right to know the full depth of this conspiracy to disenfranchise every New Mexico voter. It is the only way to make sure it never happens again,” said John Wertheim, attorney for the petitioners.
The Preamble to the Rules of Professional Conduct governing the conduct of New Mexico attorneys provides in part that, “A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others," said Wertheim.
In 2020, President Biden won New Mexico by 54.29 percent to 43.50 percent over former President Trump. The full Writ and backup documentation filed are attached.
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