I just submitted a formal complaint of the Texas Bar requesting disciplinary action against Representative Louie Gohmert. It read as follows:
Dissatisfied with the results of the November 2020 Presidential election Representative Gohmert sought to have it overturned. On December 27, 2020 he sued the Vice President of the United States claiming the Vice President had unilateral authority to reject entire slates of electors from completely different states than Gohmert’s own home state of Texas. On January 1, 2021 Judge Kernodle dismissed the lawsuit on grounds none of the plaintiffs had standing. Notably, the case remains active as Representative Gohmert has publicly stated an intent to appeal the decision.
Later that day Representative Gohmert appeared on the nationally syndicated conservative program “Newsmax” and made statements openly advocating and teaching the necessity of violence in response to the court’s decision. These statements amounted to arguing that if the courts, to include the presumably pending matter at the United States Court of Appeals, will not hear his case then Americans should violently take to the streets. Representative Gohmert said:
“But if the bottom line is, the court is saying, ‘We’re not going to touch this. You have no remedy’ — basically, in effect, the ruling would be that you gotta go the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM.”
This was not a one time passing comment. Representative Gohmet earlier in the interview expressed much the same sentiment that the courts must hear his case or there will be violence.
The comments by Representative Gohmert violate Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.05(a) in that he seeks “to influence a tribunal concerning a pending matter by means prohibited by law.” Gohmert’s public statement seeks to influence the Court of Appeals to disregard his clear standing problems, and hear the case anyway, as he argues the consequence of not doing so is violence in the streets.
The comments also violate Rule 3.07(a) relating to trial publicity. This rule states “a lawyer shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicatory proceeding.” Representative Gohmert’s comments are aimed at blackmailing the Court of Appeals towards the judicial result he demands with violence in the streets as a consequence for not doing so. Representative Gohmert did not advance legal arguments or theory, he advanced the threat of a violent insurrection.
Finally, Mr. Gohmert’s conduct violates Rule 8.04(a)(2) and (4). Rule 8.04(a)(2) prohibits a lawyer from committing “a serious crime or commit any other criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyers honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.” In this case the “serious crime” Representative Gohmert violated is the sedition statute at 18 U.S.C. 2385. This statute broadly prohibits advocating, advising or teaching the necessity of violence to overthrow the government or any subdivision of the government. Representative Gohmert plainly advised or taught the necessity of violently taking to the streets to achieve his political and judicial goals.
Rule 8.04(a)(4) prohibits a lawyer from engaging “in conduct constituting obstruction of justice.” Attempting to influence the Court system by urging street violence unless his desired result is achieved is obstruction of justice.
Finally, Representative Gohmert’s status as a prominent member of Congress must also be considered. Commentary associated with Rule 8 makes clear that his status enhances his duties under the Rules. The Commentary to Rule 8 states that lawyers: “holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer’s abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of attorney.”
Mr. Gohmert’s open advocacy of violence to achieve his desired result in a legal case is seditious and brings shame to the State Bar of Texas. I urge that the Bar review this matter and promptly impose appropriate disciplinary action.