State bar looking into lawyer who pushed voter fraud claims

National and World News

ATLANTA (AP) — The organization that licenses lawyers in Georgia has opened an inquiry into conservative attorney Lin Wood, who gained national attention since the general election for persistent, unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.

The State Bar of Georgia “is proceeding with an inquiry” under the bar rule that has to do with mental incapacity or substance abuse “to the extent of impairing competency as a lawyer,” chief operating officer Sarah Coole confirmed in an email Friday. The bar’s investigative process is confidential, but Coole said she could confirm it because Wood himself had “made this matter public.”

“I am fighting battles on every front. The State Bar of Georgia told me today they would demand a mental health exam from me if I wanted to keep my law license,” Wood wrote in a post on the social media platform Telegram that was last edited Thursday evening.

“I asked what I had done wrong; I was only told it was about my social media comments. My speech,” Wood wrote.

Coole did not respond to a follow-up email asking whether the state bar’s inquiry had to do with Wood’s social media posting.

Reached by text message Friday, Wood said he had not received any written communication or a telephone call from the state bar. Asked how the licensing body communicated an intent to demand a mental health exam, Wood said to ask the state bar.

Posting again on Telegram Friday, Wood wrote: “IF the State Bar of Georgia formally requests that I submit to a mental health examination in order to maintain my license to practice law, I will respectfully decline to do so. I am of sound mind and I have not violated any rule of professional conduct.”

Wood vowed to fight the state bar with litigation if necessary.

“I hope the State Bar will not foolishly seek what they have no right to have,” he wrote, later adding that it will “have to face the consequences of its choices.”

The state bar rules say that if its disciplinary board finds that a lawyer may be “impaired or incapacitated to practice law” as result of mental illness, cognitive impairment or substance abuse, the board may make a confidential referral to an appropriate medical or mental health professional for evaluation.

A lawyer’s refusal to participate in the evaluation or any recommended treatment may be grounds for further action, “including emergency suspension proceedings,” the rules say.

Wood has long been known for his representation of high profile clients — including Richard Jewell, who was wrongly accused in the 1996 Olympic bombing in Atlanta — particularly in defamation cases.

After the general election in November, Wood was prolific on Twitter, pledging his support for former President Donald Trump and insistently perpetuating the false claim that the election was rigged. The social media platform eventually banished him saying he violated its rules. He also made a post on Parler that seemed to call for the killing of former Vice President Mike Pence.

Wood filed legal challenges to the outcome of the presidential election on his own and in coordination with another conservative attorney, Sidney Powell, who was booted from the former president’s legal team but continued to fight on his behalf. The pair drew criticism from Republican leaders after they encouraged Georgia voters not to cast ballots in a U.S. Senate runoff election, saying it would be rigged and questioning whether the two Republican candidates had adequately supported Trump. The two Republican candidates — David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — both lost their races.

State and federal officials have repeatedly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and dozens of lawsuits making such allegations were rejected by the courts.

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