State Watch

Attorneys urge Missouri Supreme Court to probe Hawley’s actions before Capitol riot

At least 60 lawyers are calling on the Missouri Supreme Court to investigate the actions of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), an attorney, before the deadly riot by President Trump’s supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The lawyers have signed onto a formal complaint asking the court’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel to look into Hawley’s efforts to challenge the certification of 2020 presidential election results.

The complaint, first reported by The Kansas City Star and later shared with The Hill by local attorney Hugh O’Donnell, is being circulated for signatures among Missouri lawmakers.

O’Donnell told the Star that more attorneys could still sign on to the effort, which includes lawyers from St. Louis to Kansas City.

The complaint is one in a series of letters drafted by attorneys accusing Hawley of professional misconduct, as well as violating his oath of office as a senator and additional actions. 

Alan Hoffman, a retired attorney from St. Louis who circulated one of the letters arguing for sanctions against Hawley, argued that the Missouri Supreme Court should consider potential punishments against the Missouri senator ranging from a public rebuke to disbarment. 

The Kansas City newspaper reported that Alan Pratzel, the chief disciplinary counsel in Missouri, would not confirm or deny whether the complaint against Hawley had already been filed.

“The accusations are serious enough to warrant disbarment,” Hoffman said, according to the Star. “But that’s not my determination to make.”

 The Hill has reached out to Hawley’s office for comment on the report. 

In a separate legal complaint shared with The Hill and filed with the disciplinary counsel office, Springfield, Mo., based attorney Joe Miller argues that Hawley, a fellow Missouri Bar Association member, “violated Missouri’s Rules of Professional Conduct by objecting to certified Electoral College votes and by making dishonest or misleading public statements, including statements questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.” 

Hawley has been condemned by both Democrats and Republicans for his efforts to challenge the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win over unproven claims of widespread voter fraud in the election. 

Several have called on Hawley, as well as fellow GOP Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), to resign or be expelled over accusations that their efforts helped spark the violent Capitol riot. Five people died as a result of the chaos, including a Capitol Police officer who sustained injuries while responding to the rioting and a woman shot by a plainclothes officer. 

Last week, a coalition of nearly 6,000 law students and lawyers signed a petition calling for both Hawley and Cruz, graduates of Yale and Harvard law schools, respectively, to be disbarred, saying the senators contributed to inciting the deadly riot. 

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele specifically cited a photo of Hawley making a gesture of support to a crowd in Washington earlier in the day of the riot, with the petition adding that even after the violence, “Senators Hawley and Cruz still chose to stand in the chamber of the U.S. Senate and persist in their baseless objections to the will of the people.” 

Hawley, whose Senate biography describes him as “one of the nation’s leading constitutional lawyers,” has defended his actions, writing in an op-ed last week that he challenged the results on behalf of his constituents who “have deep concerns about election integrity.” 

“They have a right to be heard in Congress. And as their representative, it is my duty to speak on their behalf. That is just what I did last week,” Hawley wrote.

— Updated 3:30 p.m.

Tags 2020 election Capitol breach Capitol riot Congress Donald Trump election challenges Joe Biden Josh Hawley kansas city Missouri Senate St. Louis Ted Cruz Trump election claims

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