The FBI, DOJ & Carter Page are Set for Legal Warfare — Will Attorney John Pierce of Pierce Bainbridge be Licensed to Engage?
“Pierce’s sworn claim of such a purported heavy case load begs the question as to why the Harvard Law School educated attorney spends an inordinate amount of time on social media ranting like a petulant child, rather than, you know, doing actual legal work.”
When an attorney wishes to practice law in a state where the lawyer is not licensed, the attorney must receive permission from the relevant local court. The request is made through a “pro hac vice” application— pronounced “pro hock vee-chay,” “pro hock” for short, or abbreviated as “PHV.” The Los Angeles based John M. Pierce — a lawyer for Kyle Rittenhouse — recently applied to represent Carter Page in a lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and others. Pierce has recently withdrawn two pro hac applications in the face of searing opposition from opposing counsel. The most recent resulted in massive media exposure — with the Daily Beast penning an article: “Kyle Rittenhouse’s Maga Loving Defense Team Implodes.” One wonders if the embattled attorney’s PHV application in D.C. may face similar resistance.
Challenges to pro hac vice applications are exceedingly rare, the requests are almost always routinely granted. Pierce’s “dossier” of troubling issues,” however, perhaps makes the attorney uniquely susceptible to such challenge. In both prior instances, the opposing attorneys focused on Pierce’s “dodgy finances.”
For example, the Rittenhouse Wisconsin prosecutor’s opposition states:
- “Given [Pierce’s] own substantial personal debts, his involvement with an unregulated and opaque ‘slush fund’ provides ample opportunity for self-dealing and fraud.”
Similarly, an opposition filed against Pierce in New York in August states:
- “Mr. Pierce’s personal financial entanglements and the multiple lawsuits he is defending against various lenders point directly to a conflict of interest that Defendants fear would impact Mr. Pierce’s representation in this matter. Mr. Pierce’s own “financial, business, [and] property . . . interests,” including liens filed on the firm’s cases by non-attorney litigation funders and a personal confession of judgement signed by Mr. Pierce, would impermissibly conflict with his duties as an attorney admitted to practice in New York.”
Both oppositions — in New York and in Wisconsin — are well worth a read. Additional information of interest, which is not teased out in those filings, is a close review of financial activity at Pierce Bainbridge for the period in and around February 2020. The curious conduct appears to have looped in then-clients Advsr LLC and Lenny Dykstra, as well as lending outfits West Coast Business Capital LLC and Karish Kapital LLC. Spin-off firm Hecht Partners and litigation funder Virage Capital Management were involved in surrounding events.
As for disciplinary issues, Pierce has apparently been reported to the California State Bar at least three times for alleged conduct while at Pierce Bainbridge:
- An ex-client’s complaint was dismissed with a neutral suggestion to perhaps pursue the matter with criminal authorities.
- A young woman reportedly filed a complaint and alleges Pierce was involved in witness intimidation in the Rittenhouse case.
- Apparently members of the general public complained about the Pierce tweet below, which they perceived as an effort to incite violence.
In addition to his California license, Pierce was previously licensed in at least two other states, yet both licenses are no longer active.
In New York State, Pierce’s current status is “Resigned.”
In the State of Pennsylvania, Pierce’s current status is “Retired.”
The attorney may be, or may have been, licensed elsewhere as well.
In terms of legal work, Pierce recently declared under penalty of perjury that his 2-person firm was working “more than a dozen complex cases.”
An excerpt from the relevant declaration, dated October 13, 2020, is below. The context is Pierce quit on his clients in the middle of an ongoing litigation, leaving them without counsel. The filing consists of excuses the University of Notre Dame graduate provided to the court.
Pierce’s sworn claim of such a purported heavy case load begs the question as to why the Harvard Law School educated attorney spends an inordinate amount of time on social media ranting like a petulant child, rather than you know, doing actual legal work.
But we digress. If another challenge is raised to a Pierce PHV application — like say in this Carter Page case — how will the attorney respond?
Will he Pierce turn tail yet again?
Will he choose to be perceived as a legal coward afraid to defend his record?
Or will the attorney risk a potential judicial opinion finding that he is neither fit, nor welcomed, to practice law in the District of Columbia?
John Pierce recently called for the ousters of the Director of the FBI (Christopher A. Wray) and Director of the CIA (Gina Haspel).
Pierce’s client Carter Page previously filed lawsuits in New York, Illinois and Oklahoma that have been tossed. As for the District of Columbia, time will tell whether Pierce himself is “ousted” from participating in his client’s lawsuit.
Addendum. Rudy Giuliani hired Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP in November 2019 for the Ukraine fiasco. A detailed review of the conduct of those affiliated with the law firm, including former Pierce Bainbridge attorneys, is covered in an eye-opening piece titled: “Gangland Tactics or Aggressive Lawyering?”