Arizona Supreme Court Busts Kari Lake's Attorney On Ethics

Kari Lake

Kari Lake

Bryan Blehm, a Scottsdale divorce attorney who represented failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in her bid to overturn her 2022 defeat and lied to the state Supreme Court on her behalf, has been suspended from practicing law in Arizona for two months.

On Friday, an Arizona Supreme Court panel ruled that Blehm’s law license will be suspended for 60 days, beginning in a month. Once that term has ended and his license has been reinstated, Blehm will be placed on probation for one year and he will be required to complete five additional hours of continuing legal education in the area of ethics or professional responsibility.

The Arizona State Bar launched the disciplinary case against Blehm and sought a suspension of six months and one day as punishment for Blehm’s role in lying to the Arizona Supreme Court. In an appeal of Lake’s dismissed attempt to nullify her election loss, Blehm and Washington, D.C., employment attorney Kurt Olsen falsely stated that it was “undisputed fact” that 35,000 illegal ballots were included in Maricopa County’s final vote count.

No evidence of that claim was provided and the two were later ordered to pay $2,000 in sanctions by the state supreme court.

Suspensions longer than six months require a lawyer seeking to resume practicing law to undergo an evidentiary hearing and make their case for reinstatement. In a May 21 hearing, attorneys for the Bar told Presiding Disciplinary Judge Margaret Downie that the suspension length was warranted because Blehm submitted blatantly false evidence to the court and has so far failed to show any remorse for doing so.

A day before his disciplinary hearing, Blehm claimed he was found “guilty without a trial,” in a post on social media site X, formerly Twitter, and on the day of the hearing he failed to show up.

In its 12-page order, the panel acknowledged that Blehm had violated ethical rules by submitting false statements and jeopardized the reputation of the entire legal process.

“Respondent’s misrepresentations needlessly expanded the proceedings in the Arizona Supreme Court. And any time an attorney attempts to mislead a judicial tribunal, it brings disrepute to and fosters mistrust of the legal profession,” reads the order.

But the panel ultimately concluded that approving a suspension longer than six months was unfair, given that Blehm has no previous ethical violations. And, the order notes, the false statements advanced by Blehm and Olsen were easily identified by the state supreme court, minimizing the harm they caused.

“Is a long-term suspension necessary here to protect the public, maintain the integrity of the profession in the eyes of the public, and deter (Blehm) and other attorneys from engaging in similar misconduct?” asked the panel. “This is (Blehm’s) first disciplinary offense, and the misrepresentations at issue were so blatantly obvious there was little chance the Arizona Supreme Court would be misled by them.”

The order noted, however, that future ethical misconduct from Blehm may be met with harsher punishments. Blehm will also be required to reimburse the State Bar’s legal costs.

Neither the State Bar nor Blehm responded to requests for comment.

Olsen, meanwhile, still faces two separate disciplinary hearings scheduled later this month for making false statements in a lawsuit concerning electronic tabulators and in Lake’s election challenges. But, because Olsen is licensed to practice law in Maryland and not Arizona, the highest punishment the State Bar can win in either case is a formal reprimand.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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