Judicial Watch has filed a bar complaint against counsel for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. The complaint follows the issue raised earlier on this blog on the statement made by Ford that she was never told that the Committee had offered to fly to California. Attorneys Debra Katz, Lisa Banks, and Michael Bromwich deny the allegation and say that Ford was fully informed. These are very accomplished lawyers and I am inclined to believe them. That however raises serious questions about Ford’s sworn testimony and the attorneys offer a rather tortured explanation of the conflict.
The letter to the Board’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel details Ford’s testimony, particularly “I was hoping that they would come to me, but then I realized that was an unrealistic request.” She also stated “I wasn’t clear on what the offer was. If you were going to come out to see me, I would have happily hosted you and had you – had been happy to speak with you out there. I just did not – it wasn’t clear to me that that was the case.”
As we previously discussed, bar rules like Rule 1.4(a) state:
A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.”
In addition, Rule 1.4(b) states that “A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.”
In response, Katz, Banks, and Bromwich stated:
We have reviewed the disciplinary complaint filed by Judicial Watch with the DC Court of Appeals. It is a shameful effort to politicize the bar disciplinary process. The claim that we failed to advise Dr. Christine Blasey Ford of the various options available to her in connection with her allegations that Judge — now Justice — Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s is completely false and without merit. Dr. Ford was advised of all of her options and made her decisions based on the information we provided her. We were never told that Senator Grassley was willing personally to fly to California to meet with Dr. Ford, and that is how she understood his ambiguous question at the hearing. The suggestion that we concealed relevant information from her, or manipulated her into doing something that was contrary to her wishes, is utterly false. We will be seeking the equivalent of Rule 11 disciplinary sanctions against Judicial Watch.
The problem is that the question was not about Chairman Grassley flying out. The question concerned “the committee” flying out to California.Here is the exchange:
Was it communicated to you by your counsel or someone else, that the committee had asked to interview you and that — that they offered to come out to California to do so?
BROMWICH: We’re going to object, Mr. Chairman, to any call for privileged conversations between counsel and Dr. Ford. It’s a privileged conversation…
GRASSLEY: Would — could — could we — could you validate the fact that the offer was made without her saying a word?
GRASSLEY: Is it possible for that question to be answered without violating any counsel relationships?
FORD: Can I say something to you — do you mind if I say something to you directly?
FORD: I just appreciate that you did offer that. I wasn’t clear on what the offer was. If you were going to come out to see me, I would have happily hosted you and had you — had been happy to speak with you out there. I just did not — it wasn’t clear to me that that was the case.
GRASSLEY: OK. Does that take care of your question?
MITCHELL: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”
Ford’s counsel have said that they fully informed her of the offer to be interviewed in California by the Committee. If that is true, the answer by Ford is difficult to square. The suggestion that she understood the question to be about Chairman Grassley is pretty forced.
That is still unlikely to amount to a perjury case or a successful bar complaint since it turns on Ford’s understanding of the question. However, it is now confirmed by counsel that Ford was told of the offer.