The disciplinary office that regulates attorney conduct in Colorado is taking steps toward potentially bringing an ethics complaint against Jenna Ellis, the lawyer who played a prominent role in former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
Colorado’s Attorney Regulation Counsel, an independent office in the state, indicated last week that it had been authorized to prepare and file a formal complaint against Ellis, according to a February 17 email provided to CNN by Project 65, a group of bipartisan lawyers that is asking for disciplinary action against Ellis and other pro-Trump attorneys who tried to overturn and undermine the 2020 election.
“We expect the Complaint will be filed within the next month or so,” said the email, which was sent to the head of a group that asked the disciplinary office to investigate Ellis.
Under Colorado attorney disciplinary rules, the office still has the option to reach a settlement or stipulation with Ellis at this point in the process, so it’s not guaranteed that an ethics complaint will ultimately be filed against her.
Jessica Yates, who runs the disciplinary office, told CNN that the office cannot comment on specific cases. The email was sent to Michael Teter, the managing director of the 65 Project.
Ellis did not respond to CNN’s attempts to reach her for comment. When the 65 Project asked for the ethics investigation into Ellis last March, she told CNN that she would not be “intimidated by this dirty political maneuver to undermine the legal profession.”
Teter told CNN that the recent move by the disciplinary office “demonstrates the seriousness of her misconduct in her attempt to overturn the 2020 election by abusing the court system and making fraudulent, baseless allegations.” Ellis was the public face of many of Trump’s election-reversal gambits, working on Trump’s legal efforts as well as the failed bid to convince state legislatures to nullify President Joe Biden’s win.
Several other Trump-aligned lawyers have faced potential professional consequences – including the possibility of suspension or disbarment – for their post-election legal conduct. However, some of the bids to discipline those attorneys have run into roadblocks.
The disciplinary action that was brought against Sidney Powell, who put forward some of the most outlandish false claims about the presidential vote, was thrown out by a Texas judge on Thursday.
But an attorney disciplinary committee in DC made the preliminary finding last year that former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani violated ethics rules for his work on a Trump lawsuit that tried to throw out hundreds of thousands of votes in Pennsylvania. There will be more rounds of appeal before that finding is finalized and a punishment is handed down, but the DC Bar’s disciplinary counsel has asked for Giuliani to be disbarred. And Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice Department lawyer who tried unsuccessfully to get the department to validate Trump’s false voter fraud claims, is also facing attorney ethics proceedings in DC.
If the attorney regulation counsel in Colorado moves forward with a complaint against Ellis, and there isn’t a settlement, the matter will be go through rounds of proceedings in front of a disciplinary judge, including a potential trial-like hearing before a panel made up of the judge and two other volunteers. The decision by that panel can then be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.