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Colorado Supreme Court censures attorney and Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis over 2020 election claims

Colorado Supreme Court censures attorney and Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis over 2020 election clai
Colorado Supreme Court censures attorney and Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis over 2020 election clai 00:36

The Colorado Supreme Court's chief disciplinary judge censured Jenna Ellis, a former Colorado prosecutor and law professor who served as a prominent legal advisor for former President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

Representatives from the nonprofit States United Democracy Center filed a formal complaint with the Colorado Supreme Court in May of last year pertaining to Ellis' false claims that Trump won the 2020 election and that President Joe Biden stole the election. The court announced in December it would launch an investigation.

The one-page decision letter cites a stipulation involving Ellis as the reason for the censure. The Colorado Supreme Court, in a public statement, said "Ellis agreed that she violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c), which prohibits reckless, knowing, or intentional misrepresentations by attorneys. She violated this rule when, as counsel to the President Trump (sic) and the Trump campaign, she made a number of public statements about the November 2020 presidential election that were false."

Colorado Supreme Court

A censure against an attorney is a formal disciplinary action, but typically does not, in itself, result in suspension or disbarment.

In that 45-page May 2022 complaint, the States United Democracy Center -- which describes itself as a "nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections" and comprises former government officials, legal experts, law enforcement officials and others -- accuse Ellis of violating several provisions of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct through her statements about election denialism.

"After the 2020 election, Ms. Ellis made numerous public misrepresentations alleging fraud in the election-even as federal and state election officials repeatedly found that no fraud had occurred that could have altered the outcome and even as Mr. Trump and his allies brought and lost over 60 lawsuits claiming election fraud or illegality," that complaint states, in part.

Georgia Election Investigation
FILE - Jenna Ellis, a member of then-President Donald Trump's legal team, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Ellis has many close ties to Colorado. She got her bachelor's degree at Colorado State University and worked as a deputy district attorney in Weld County and assistant professor of legal studies at Colorado Christian University. She was fired from her job as a prosecutor in Weld County after about six months, according to a profile in the Wall Street Journal.

In that story, she says she was fired because "she refused to bring a case to trial that she believed was an unethical prosecution." The Colorado Sun in 2020, however, reported that Ellis "failed to meet the employer's expectations" and "made mistakes on cases the employer believes she should not have made," according to a document that the outlet obtained from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

"The public censure in this matter reinforces that even if engaged in political speech, there is a line attorneys cannot cross, particularly when they are speaking in a representative capacity," the Colorado Supreme Court said.

The court's Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel said it's not currently pursuing any other charges against Ellis.

Efforts to reach Ellis and her Denver-based attorney by phone and email were unsuccessful Wednesday night.

UPDATE: Jenna Ellis, Trump campaign legal adviser in 2020, pleads guilty in Georgia election case

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