On Sunday, a lawyer representing President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign in the case against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar asked the court to sanction Boockvar’s law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, after a lawyer at the firm allegedly sent her harassing phone calls, text messages, and physical threats.
The Trump lawyer, Linda Kerns, in a filing provided exclusively to PJ Media, claims she has faced “continuous harassment in the form of abusive e-mails, phone calls, physical and economic threats, and even accusations of treason – all for representing the President of the United States’ campaign in this litigation.”
Kerns claims an unnamed lawyer in the office of Kirkland & Ellis, the outside law firm representing Boockvar, had broken “the laws of decorum.”
“It is quintessentially the Court’s role to police and appropriately sanction law firms appearing in front of it for such conduct,” Kerns argues.
In the filing, the Trump lawyer specifies that on “November 14, 2020 at 8:43am, an attorney at Kirkland & Ellis left a one-minute voicemail for undersigned counsel. The voicemail, which has been provided to counsel of record from Kirkland & Ellis in this case and will be provided to the Court via email upon request, speaks for itself and by any measure falls afoul of standards of professional conduct.”
Kerns cites Local Rule 83.23.2, which adopts a code of professional conduct in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. That code of conduct includes a commitment to “treat with civility and respect the lawyers, clients, opposing parties, the court and all the officials with whom I work.” The Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct also state that a “lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials.”
Kerns claims she contacted Boockvar’s legal team about this harassment and the law firm claimed the harassing voicemail may not have come from Kirland & Ellis. Yet the law firm later admitted the caller ID suggested the call came from the firm, but “excused the conduct by saying the lawyer (who works in the same office) does not work on this case or in litigation, and offering that the call was ‘discourteous’ and apologizing for wasting time.”
“That is not good enough under the Rules of this Court or the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, and this Court’s authority to issue sanctions exists in order to protect litigants, counsel, and the Rules themselves,” Kerns added. “It is sad that we currently reside in a world where abuse and harassment are the costs of taking on a representation unpopular with some. It is sanctionable when that abuse and harassment comes from an elite law firm representing the Secretary of State. An appropriate sanction should issue—one which deters such misconduct in the future.”
Kerns filed a motion for an order to show cause relating to harassment.
This filing comes in the midst of a critical election lawsuit. The Trump campaign sued Boockvar, claiming that the State of Pennsylvania set up an “illegal two-tiered voting system for the 2020 General Election, devaluing in-person votes.” Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis claimed that Pennsylvania’s election results are “irredeemably compromised.” The lawsuit seeks an order from the court preventing Boockvar from certifying the results of the election.
According to Decision Desk HQ, Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads Trump by just over 45,000 votes in Pennsylvania. Most news outlets hailed Biden as the president-elect after calling Pennsylvania for the Democrat.
This filing is unlikely to make an impact in the overall litigation, but the alleged harassment is disturbing. President Trump has a right to contest the election results and to point out serious irregularities — and there were many in Pennsylvania. Even if Biden prevails in the election after the litigation is settled, Trump’s lawyers are not traitors for representing the president during this process.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.