North Carolina’s Attorney General, Josh Stein, is in hot water over legal filings regarding the state’s Voter ID lawsuit case.
A brief filed to the U.S. Supreme Court this week contains accusations of several charges of severe ethical misconduct over Stein’s actions.
Stein didn’t act on his own, Governor Roy Cooper entered into the mix, announcing the action on the Governor’s Office official website.
“This morning, the Governor’s General Counsel and Chief Deputy Attorney General jointly sent a letter discharging outside counsel in the case on behalf of the State.”
At the time of the filings, Governor Cooper said that, “We need to make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, not harder, and I will not continue to waste time and money appealing this unconstitutional law. It’s time for North Carolina to stop fighting for this unfair, unconstitutional law and work instead to improve equal access for voters.”
Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland.) fired back.
“Roy Cooper’s and Josh Stein’s desperate and politically-motivated stunt to derail North Carolina’s voter ID law is not only illegal, it also raises serious questions about whether they’ve allowed their own personal and political prejudices and conflicts of interest to cloud their professional judgment. We expect the courts to reject this unethical stunt just as they did when Cooper tried the same trick in the ‘Choose Life’ license tag case.”
Illegalities, ethical misconduct and more. What is specifically being talked about here? There are two key points are made clear by the brief.
First, when Josh Stein took office in January of this year, he filed a motion asking for dismissal of the appeal of a ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which struck down the state’s voter ID law. Stein did so without notifying the General Assembly or the counsel representing the General Assembly in the case.
Second, during the trial portion of the Voter ID case, Josh Stein served as what is called a ‘fact witness’. He gave testimony to the court in opposition of the law. Upon taking office, Stein should have recused himself and not have been involved with the case thereafter.
These charges are serious.
J. Christian Adams at PJ Media points out these offenses are usually grounds for disbarment:
North Carolina rules of professional responsibility govern lawyer ethics. A lawyer may be disbarred for violating them, as long as a complaint is filed against them.
The brief filed to the United States Supreme Court has a long list of professional ethics rules Stein has violated.
North Carolina rule 3.7 prohibits a lawyer from serving as a witness as well as a lawyer in a matter. North Carolina rule 1.7 prohibits Stein from serving as a lawyer in a matter where he has exhibited a personal interest. And Rule 1.11 prohibits Stein from representing a client in a matter when the lawyer was personally involved in the matter as a public official previously, such as testifying. The brief of the North Carolina Legislature cites all of these ethical violations to the United States Supreme Court.
Adams goes on to drop two bombshells at the end of the article:
Stein also made a side deal with plaintiffs in the case, such as the NAACP, that they would forgo up to $12 million in legal fees if the case were dropped.
Did I mention that Stein’s trial lawyer father Adam was one of the lawyers who originally brought the court attacks on election-integrity laws?
According to the brief, if Stein didn’t have the legal authority to file the motion in the first place, did Stein have the authority to make promises to the NAACP to the tune of $12 million dollars?
With regards to Josh Stein’s father being involved, it is yet another reason Stein should have recused himself.
American Lens reached out to the Attorney General’s office for comment. The press office released the following statement regarding the PJ Media article:
“These statements sadly mischaracterize both the Supreme Court filings and the ethical rules. We are confident that the Attorney General has not violated any rules.”