The State Bar of Georgia’s investigation into far-right attorney Lin Wood and whether he should lose his law license after trying to overturn the presidential election results will move forward, as a federal judge Wednesday struck down Wood’s lawsuit trying to stop the bar from requiring him to undergo a mental health evaluation as part of their probe.
Attorney Lin Wood at a rally on Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Georgia.ASSOCIATED PRESS
The state bar is investigating whether Wood violated multiple professional conduct rules after the election, as he brought multiple lawsuits challenging the presidential election results and spread baseless conspiracy theories online involving such figures as former Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.
The bar asked Wood to undergo a mental health evaluation as part of that investigation, as the organization’s rules state “mental illness, cognitive impairment, alcohol abuse, or substance abuse, to the extent of impairing competency as a lawyer” are grounds for being disbarred.
Wood refused to undergo the evaluation and instead sued members of the state bar’s disciplinary board in federal court, alleging their request violates his First Amendment and due process rights and privacy.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten ruled Wednesday in favor of the state bar and denied Wood’s request for an injunction blocking the mental health evaluation, saying Wood “cites no law” to back up his legal arguments and his claims the bar brought its charges against him in “bad faith” doesn’t hold up because the organization had “‘ample evidence’ of conduct warranting a proceeding.”
The judge also noted that Wood should have filed his lawsuit in state court instead of federal court and pointed out there are other ways for Wood to raise his concerns about the probe as part of the bar’s procedures for investigations.
Wood has already appealed the ruling against him.
What To Watch For
Wood is still refusing to participate in the mental health evaluation, and the state bar’s rules state that being unwilling to undergo the examination “may be grounds for further proceedings...including emergency suspension proceedings.” In a court filing, however, the state bar members noted that refusing to undergo the evaluation wouldn’t be immediate grounds for Wood having his law license revoked. That would only happen after “an initial finding that the lawyer’s conduct poses a substantial threat of harm to his client or the public,” followed by a hearing by a third-party “special master” at which Wood could make his case for why he shouldn’t be punished. The special master would then have to formally recommend that the license be suspended, and the Georgia Supreme Court would have to accept that recommendation.
Wood responded to the ruling against him on Telegram Wednesday, alleging Batten—who also oversaw several of Wood’s unsuccessful post-election lawsuits, and who Wood has tried to have removed from the case—was biased against him. Wood predicted his appeal will succeed if it is “heard by honest judges,” writing, “I will never quit fighting against a corrupt legal system and the corrupt, politically agenda-driven State Bar of Georgia.”
The state bar investigation is one of several consequences Wood is facing for his actions post-election. The lawyer has also been removed from unrelated court cases in Delaware and against MSNBC anchor Joy Reid, and the Lawyers Club of Atlanta expelled Wood from their membership in March. Wood is also separately under investigation by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, which is probing whether he voted illegally in Georgia after residing out of state in South Carolina. The far-right attorney—who before the election was known for representing such clients as 1996 Olympics bombing suspect Richard Jewell and the family of JonBenet Ramsey—has continued to deny any wrongdoing despite the allegations against him, and unsuccessfully ran for chairman of the South Carolina GOP.