Petition In Support of the Disbarment of Matt Gaetz
January 11, 2021 ADDENDUM TO BAR COMPLAINT:
On or about December 20, 2020, I filed a bar complaint against attorney Matt Gaetz for his role in an attempt to subvert a free and fair election, in abrogation of his oath of office, as a waste of valuable court resources, filed in bad faith and without any basis in the law. Since that time, much has transpired. Rather than being chastened in his comportment, on or about January 6, 2021 (and in the days leading up to that date) Mr. Gaetz made several public statements, and statements in the halls of Congress, in support of, and in league with an attempt at a violent overthrow of the United States Government, in a shocking insurrection that is now well documented. Not only did Mr. Gaetz, by inciting and encouraging the mob, put the life and safety of his fellow members of Congress at risk, but his irresponsible, deceptive and seditious rantings led directly or indirectly to the deaths of no less than five (5) people, including a law enforcement officer who died in the line of duty.
Mr. Gaetz’s words matter. He knows this. As both a member of Congress and a lawyer, he represents the law and rule of law to his constituents and the many others he influences. While it cannot be said that he alone was responsible for the mayhem of January 6, 2021, it cannot be ignored that he lent his voice and the weight of his ostensible knowledge of the law, and of the Constitution, in support of violence that led to the destruction of persons and hallowed places in the seat of government, and was a desecration of the ties that bind Americans together as a people.
Of all the principles enshrined in the Constitution, none is more sacred than the contract between the people and those they place in positions of power, that the power granted will be peacefully relinquished at the behest of the people when they so choose through the process of elections. A breakdown of that contract leads inevitably to the loss of democracy, and the installment of authoritarianism, bloody conflict, or both. In my original complaint, I outlined the reasons why the arguments made by Mr. Gaetz with respect to rejecting or subverting the election result were in bottomless and abject bad faith, and there is no need to repeat those reasons here.
However, the time has come to ask a simple question: “If the oath of office which states that all “officers of the Court” will protect and defend the Constitution, does not prohibit active solicitation and encouragement of armed insurrection and violent threats against Congress or elected officials, what meaning does the oath have at all?” Why bother with the oath at all, if a violation so egregious that it has not occurred since the Civil War, is excused?
Section lll of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution addresses Mr. Gaetz’s right to be a member of Congress. It may or may not extend to his right to be a member of the Florida Bar. I, and those like-minded who have signed this petition, posit that anyone who went to such lengths to destroy the Constitution cannot be trusted to protect it in the future, and violated any oath to do so in the past. All of our law, including the laws of the State of Florida, derive and flow from the Constitution, and are subordinate to it. In attacking the very concept of the rule of law, of peaceful resolution of disputes through the use of the courts, and changing law and lawmakers through certified elections, Mr. Gaetz placed himself and his allegiance to Donald Trump above everything and everyone, including the rule of law.
For these reasons, and those outlined in the original complaint, I submit this addendum and the updated total and sample of signatures to the petition herein. I look forward to your response and the proper execution of your sworn duties as guardians of the reputation and membership of the Florida Bar, and of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Pamela M. Keith
We, the undersigned, affix our signatures to this petiton to assert our full support for the Complaint below to have Mr. Matt Gaetz disbarred for his third serious transgression in violation of the Florida Bar Code of Conduct, and his egregious betrayal and attack on the Constitution of the United States of America:
My name is Pamela Keith. I am a resident of the State of Florida, and am filing this Complaint against Mr. Matt Gaetz, an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Florida, subject to the rules and standards set by the Florida Bar. For the reasons stated herein, Mr. Gaetz engaged in conduct that blatantly violates the standards and norms of lawyers licensed in this state, and should be sanctioned for his conduct, up to and including, disbarment.
This is Mr. Gaetz third serious infraction within the last four years. Mr. Gaetz engaged in willful and sanctionable witness intimidation in conjunction with Congressional investigations into misconduct of the President, for which a Bar Complaint was filed. On a second occasion, Mr. Gaetz compromised security of classified proceedings in Congress by engaging in a publicity stunt and using an unsecured mobile phone in a location in which such was prohibited. Although he was not sanctioned for it, Mr. Gaetz embarrassed and brought shame upon the Bar of the State of Florida when he wore a gas mask on the floor of the United States House of Representatives to mock and make light of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died and suffered from the coronavirus pandemic.
But Mr. Gaetz's latest transgression is one that truly warrants loss of the right to practice law in the State of Florida. In this latest episode, Mr. Gaetz willingly participated in an act of sedition, and an illegal and immoral effort to disenfranchise millions of American voters. I ask that the Bar fully investigate Mr. Gaetz’s actions, whether or not they believe themselves to have authority to discipline him at this time, and that the Bar publish its findings with respect to Mr. Gaetz’s actions and choices. I maintain that no lawyer should act in furtherance of sedition or destruction of the Constitution of the United States.
Mr. Gaetz brought shame and disrepute on the legal profession and on the state of Florida, and is no longer worthy of the privilege of being called an “officer of the court." The Complaint below lays out the basis for my assertion, and is witnessed by the persons who have signed a petition in support of this Complaint, a sample list of whom is enclosed herein.
I. VIOLATION OF THE OATH OFFICE
In order to be admitted to the Bar of the State of Florida, Mr. Gaetz swore an oath consisting, inter alia, of the following solemn obligations:
“I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida.”
“I will maintain the respect due to Courts of Justice and Judicial Officers. I will not counsel or maintain any suit or proceedings which shall appear to me to be unjust, nor any defense except such that I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land.”
On or about December 10, 2020, Mr. Gaetz affixed his name to a brief filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of a Motion for Leave to File a Complaint propounded by the Attorney General of Texas, asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the certified election results of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia (hereinafter “the Defendant States”). The gravamen of the petitioner’s request for leave to file a complaint was that the election procedures of the Defendant States were somehow deficient. The filing made no claim of large-scale voter fraud, nor did it take issue with the election results for any other races on the ballots of the states at issue. Importantly, the remedy sought in the Motion was the wholesale disenfranchisement of millions of voters who engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever, in order to overturn the outcome of an election and install Donald Trump as president over the objection of the majority of the both the electorate and the Electoral College.
Mr. Gaetz joined with one hundred twenty five (125) other Republican members of the House of Representatives in a Friend of the Court (hereinafter amicus) brief in support of the Motion filed by the State of Texas. In doing so, Mr. Gaetz materially harmed the citizens of the state of Florida inasmuch as they were likely to draw retaliatory enmity from the voters of the Defendant States, and most importantly, served to dissolve the Constitution of the United States of America. He acted in furtherance of sedition designed to tear apart the fabric of federalism that allows this nation to function and thrive.
Wisely, the Supreme Court summarily denied the ludicrous Motion and refused to grant leave to file the Complaint. In so doing, the Court tersely referred the petitioner to the Constitution, which contemplates no right of a state to impose its will on another state for any reason, let alone for the immoral purpose of disenfranchising millions of voters. This basic concept of Constitutional law is taught to first year law students, and theoretically should have been fully comprehended by a person purporting to be a licensed Florida attorney. There is no straight-faced argument that the effort to disenfranchise the voters of the four Defendant States was “debatable under the law.” It was not.
The United States Supreme Court is the court of original jurisdiction in disputes between the states. Traditionally, it is the place where states go to address disputes over territory or control of natural resources. That is why Justices Alito and Thomas concluded that the Court should have granted the Motion for Leave to file the Complaint. But even they had to clarify that they saw no merits to the Complaint. The other seven justices rightly concluded that despite the fact that the Court enjoys original jurisdiction in disputes between the states, the Motion filed by Texas did not involve a dispute that was cognizable under the Constitution of the United States, irrespective of the fact that it was a dispute between states.
Put another way, the claim by Texas was completely out of bounds of the structure of the Constitution, indeed fundamentally inimical to it. Pursuing legal challenges that are inimical to the Constitution is the opposite of “supporting” the Constitution of the United States. It is also the opposite of “supporting” the Constitution of the state of Florida. No right is more sacred than the right to vote. Had Texas succeeded in disenfranchising the voters of the Defendant States, what would prevent a similar fate to fall upon the voters of Florida in the future in retaliation, given the notorious issues and irregularities with Florida elections?
Put simply, the Texas motion was designed to tear apart the fabric of the United States. It is not an overstatement to call it an act of sedition. In choosing to participate in a seditious act, Mr. Gaetz violated his oath of office. The Florida Bar should investigate his conduct and ascertain if his third major transgression aginst the code of conduct is of a nature warranting the removal of his license to practice law.
II. ABUSE OF THE COURTS
According to the preamble of the Code of Conduct for Florida lawyers:
A lawyer’s conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer’s business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers, and public officials. While it is a lawyer’s duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer’s duty to uphold legal process.
The Trump campaign filed no less than fifty (50) legal challenges across the country to undermine the election results. It filed cases in state and federal courts, both at the trial and appellate level. It succeeded in only one case of minimal import, and was summarily dismissed for want of presenting a scintilla of admissible evidence in dozens of courts. It produced no evidence of wide-scale election fraud and has become a national joke of jurisprudence, repeatedly filing court papers of dubious merit, rife with lies, baseless speculations, inaccuracies, and obvious technical mistakes. It has been given every reasonable opportunity to make its case and has simply not be able to do so in any court. Its filing at the Supreme Court was an abuse of process, and a total waste of valuable taxpayer resources.
Mr. Gaetz’s participation in the Supreme Court proceedings was wasteful and an abuse of legal proceedings. It was an outrageous betrayal of Floridians and an attack on the unwitting voters of the Defendant States, who did nothing to deserve an attack from Florida other than choosing Joe Biden over Donald Trump for the presidency. The Trump Campaign’s Motion was frivolous and without any basis in law, and Mr. Gaetz’s participation in such an abuse of process is worthy of sanction, up to and including disbarment.
III. BAD FAITH AND LACK OF CANDOR TO A TRIBUNAL
Rule 4-3.3 prohibits a lawyer from presenting misleading legal argument, or argument based on knowingly false representations of law. Furthermore, a lawyer has a duty to disclose directly adverse authority in the controlling jurisdiction. The amicus brief signed by Mr. Gaetz falls woefully short of this requirement. To be fair, there is little precedent for the notion of one state disenfranchising the voters of another state, but at a minimum, his filing should have pointed out that the outcome of the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution prohibit the relief sought by petitioner.
Furthermore, the amicus brief conveniently fails to address the fact the Motion takes no issue with the election results in the Senatorial, Congressional and down ballot races of the Defendant States, which is internally inconsistent and illogical. If, as the Motion intimates, there were substantial irregularities in the conduct of the election, surely the down-ballot races were equally corrupted. And yet, the filings make no suggestion that the Republican members of Congress from the Defendant States were not properly elected and should not be seated in Congress.
The idiocy of this glaring problem is proof of the inexcusable bad faith on the part of Texas, and advanced by Mr. Gaetz in his support of the Trump Team effort. Mr. Gaetz was well aware that the internal theory of the argument in the Motion made no sense. He was also aware that the Texas Motion was rife with lies, misstatements of facts, wild unproven accusations, speculation and vague untenable legal theories. Mr. Gaetz saw fit to join this pathetic example of legal argument in order to create doubt about the legitimacy of the election result in the court of public opinion, and place pressure on the Supreme Court to hear the case, regardless of the damage that such would do the American people.
Mr. Gaetz's bottomless bad faith is further evidenced by the fact that he supports a claim that the use of Vote By Mail by the Defendant States was somehow unconstitutional. It should not be lost on the reader that Vote by Mail has been used in Florida for years. Mr. Gaetz was well aware of that fact. So how, exactly, could he support an assertion that Vote by Mail is unconstitutional when it is the very procedure by which he himself was elected. It bears repeating that none of the partisan GOP litigants had issue with Vote by Mail with regards to the election of Senators or members of Congress.
The absurd Texas maneuver, and the whipping up of Republican support for it was partisan political theatre, designed to undermine faith in the election result and sow division and dissent in the greater populace. The entire effort was committed in bad faith and in advancement of the dissolution of the Constitution of the United States. Mr. Gaetz’s choices were yet another serious and profound violation of the standard to which Florida lawyers are held, and are worthy of censure and sanction, up to and including permanent disbarment.
For the reasons stated herein, I ask that the Florida Bar investigate Mr. Gaetz’s actions and ascertain if he should be allowed to continue practicing law in the state of Florida.
December ____, 2020
Pam Keith Contact the author of the petition
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