Supreme Court declines to take up appeal from John Eastman involving emails sought by House Jan. 6 select committee

Washington — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from conservative attorney John Eastman that involved his efforts to shield his emails from investigators with the House select committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Notable in the unsigned order turning away Eastman’s case was a note that Justice Clarence Thomas “took no part in the consideration or decision of this petition.” The justice did not provide an explanation for his recusal. Eastman clerked for Thomas on the Supreme Court, and emails obtained by the House panel showed that Ginni Thomas, the justice’s wife, corresponded with the conservative lawyer.

Eastman, a former law professor at Chapman University, helped craft the legal strategy in which he claimed former Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to unilaterally reject state electoral votes cast for Joe Biden or delay the certification of Electoral College votes during the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.

In August, Eastman, former President Donald Trump and 17 others were charged in a sprawling racketeering case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Eastman faces nine counts related to an alleged plan to send a slate of fake presidential electors in Georgia to Congress in order to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. He pleaded not guilty.

The case before the Supreme Court stemmed from an effort by Eastman to keep his emails from the House select committee examining the Capitol attack. Eastman argued the subpoena for his records sought attorney-client privileged communications and attorney work product.

A federal district court ordered Eastman to turn over a tranche of emails to the panel, 10 of which the judge said were “closely tied” to the committee’s investigation and subject to the crime-fraud exception, which applies to documents and communications that were in furtherance of illegal or fraudulent conduct.

U.S. District Judge David Carter had previously determined that Trump and Eastman “likely committed obstruction of an official proceeding” when they allegedly attempted to disrupt the joint session of Congress convened on Jan. 6.

Eastman sought review of the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, but provided the select committee with eight of the disputed documents in order to comply with the district court’s order. After the emails were disclosed to the public, the 9th Circuit dismissed the case as moot and declined to wipe away the district court’s finding that some of the messages were subject to the crime-fraud exception..

In urging the Supreme Court to take up his case, Eastman said the district court’s conclusion”has cast aspersions not just on Dr. Eastman but also on his former client, the former President of the United States who is a candidate for the office of President in 2024.”

“The ramifications, both political and legal, of such a holding are significant, and petitioner, both on his own behalf and for his former client’s benefit, should not have to be subjected to those ramifications on an ongoing basis when he was deprived of his right to appeal by the unilateral actions of the government — the party that prevailed in the District Court — that mooted the appeal,” he wrote in a filing.

Leave a Comment