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Reno attorney faces bar complaint over “frivolous” election lawsuits

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A New Jersey congressman filed a complaint Friday with the State Bar of Nevada against six Nevada lawyers whom he says have violated professional standards in bringing election-related disputes on behalf of the Trump campaign and other Republican parties.

Attorneys named in the complaint include Brian Hardy, Susan Gillespie and Alex Calaway of the Marquis Aurbach Coffing firm in Las Vegas; Donald Campbell and J. Colby Williams of the Campbell & Williams firm in Las Vegas; and David O’Mara of the O’Mara Law Firm, P.C. in Reno.

The complaint letter was one of five filed against 22 lawyers in five states—Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania—by Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.). The President’s lead attorney working to overturn election results, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was also named in the complaints.

“In their capacity as attorneys representing the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, these individuals have filed frivolous lawsuits and used your state’s courts to assault public confidence in our nation’s electoral system, violating the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct,” Pascrell wrote. He urged an investigation into the attorneys’ actions and sanctions against each, including potential disbarment, for “aiding Trump’s attempt to steal the election.”

President-elect Joe Biden earned a 33,596-vote lead, or 2.39%, over Trump in Nevada, securing him a win in the state. His Nevada victory was solidified by the state Supreme Court this week. Despite claims, no evidence has been provided to convince judges of any alleged voter fraud.

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Protesters gathered in downtown Reno Aug. 4, 2020 to rally against AB4 and mail-in voting. Image: Trevor Bexon

The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in Nevada, both before and after the election, decrying the use of mail-in ballots and disputing ballot processing procedures.

Campbell and Williams were part of the Trump campaign’s legal challenge to Nevada’s Assembly Bill 4 back in August. The bill was passed during a special legislative session this summer to give voters an option to vote by mail as a way to social distance during the pandemic, but Trump asserted it would allow Democrats to “steal the state” in the election. That challenge was defeated.

“Our firm has not been involved in any of the lawsuits challenging the results of any election but, rather, challenged the constitutionality of limited aspects of a state law hastily passed during a special session of Nevada’s legislature last summer,” Campbell & Williams wrote in a statement. “That challenge occurred and was resolved well before the recent election.”

The statement went on to call Pascrell’s complaint “nothing more than a transparent publicity stunt” and suggested the Congressman focus on his own district rather than “impugn the good names of lawyers he has never met and knows nothing about.”  

In the ballot processing case, filed against Clark County Registrar of Voters and Nevada’s Secretary of State, First Judicial District Court Judge James Wilson said, simply, there was no evidence to claims made by the plaintiffs that Clark County violated election laws.

In an appeal of that case to the Nevada Supreme Court, the court ruled that the plaintiffs “have not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success to merit a stay or injunction.”

Similar tactics were used in lawsuits filed on behalf of other Republican candidates. Those lawsuits were also tossed by judges.

The State Bar of Nevada has four forms of discipline depending on the severity of the complaint. Sanctions can include a letter of reprimand and a potential fine up to $1,000; a public reprimand, suspension of license to practice law; and irrevocable disbarment.  

This Is Reno reached out to each of the Nevada attorneys and did not receive a response from Hardy, Gillespie, Calaway or O’Mara in time for publication. This story may be updated.

Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working in marketing, public relations and communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. She also serves as director of communications for Nevada Cancer Coalition, a statewide nonprofit. Though she now lives in Atlanta, she is a Nevadan for life and uses her three-hour time advantage to get a jump on the morning’s news.

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