The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that a local judge was incorrect to boot far-right attorney L. Lin Wood Jr. from working on a lawsuit filed in Sussex County court.
A year ago, Wood’s temporary authority to practice law in Delaware was revoked by a Sussex County Superior Court judge, citing dishonesty and incompetence in legal efforts involving Wood elsewhere aimed at overturning the presidential election on behalf of former President Donald Trump.
Before Wood was involved in those legal challenges to November’s election, he was representing Carter Page, a political operative tied to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Page was suing Oath Inc., parent company to Yahoo! News, for defamation in Sussex County Superior Court.
Wood is not a member of the Delaware bar but was given permission by the court to represent Page, a common privilege afforded to outside attorneys in Delaware courts. The Page lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, but before that, Wood’s privilege to litigate in Delaware was revoked by Sussex County Superior Court Judge Craig A. Karsnitz.
At the time, Karsnitz ruled that Wood had engaged in conduct in other states that would run afoul of Delaware attorneys’ rules of professional conduct, if that conduct had occurred in Delaware. Karsnitz cited election litigation associated with Wood in Georgia and Wisconsin.
“The conduct of Mr. Wood, albeit not in my jurisdiction, exhibited a toxic stew of mendacity, prevarication and surprising incompetence,” Karsnitz wrote revoking Wood’s authority to practice in Delaware.
That order cited a long list of deficiencies, errors and falsities in litigation Wood was associated with in Georgia and Wisconsin that sought to overturn election results in those states. Those lawsuits were quickly batted down in those states. Some have been appealed.
Karsnitz said he wasn’t making a determination about any specific violation of professional conduct but is required to ensure those practicing before him are of “sufficient character” and “conduct themselves with sufficient civility and truthfulness.”
Karsnitz also cited tweets by Wood, including one where Wood called for the arrest and execution of former Vice President Mike Pence. Karsnitz said the tweets likely contributed to the incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters who took over the U.S. Capitol.
Wood and Ron Poloquin, a local attorney representing Wood in his appeal of the order, argued that he was not an attorney signatory to the Wisconsin legislation and was the plaintiff, not an attorney, in the Georgia case. Wood denied seeking to mislead anyone through the litigation and said he had not been sanctioned in any way by authorities that police attorney conduct in those states.
Wood also sought to revoke the court’s permission to work the Page case in Delaware before Karsnitz entered the order.
In its ruling, the Delaware Supreme Court noted that state or federal courts in Georgia never made a ruling that Wood’s complaint there was frivolous or in bad faith. The Supreme Court said that Wood not being allowed to answer allegations about his influence on the Jan. 6 insurrection was indicative of “an unfair process.”
The court noted that Karsnitz sought to cast aspersions on Wood’s character which were not backed up by evidence in the record leading up to Karsnitz’s ruling.
The Supreme Court wrote it is proper for lower courts to ask attorneys to show why their temporary authority to litigate in Delaware should not be revoked when that attorney is accused of serious misconduct elsewhere.
But in situations like Wood’s, where allegations of misconduct in another state has not been adjudicated, where the alleged misconduct has not adversely affected the proceedings in Delaware and where the lawyer agrees to remove himself, it is abuse of discretion for the court to revoke a lawyer’s admission, the Supreme Court ruled.
Contact Xerxes Wilson at (302) 324-2787 or [email protected]. Follow @Ber_Xerxes on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Order booting pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood from Delaware court reversed