Facing a disqualification motion arguing that he is unfit to practice law, Lin Wood agreed on Friday to put another attorney in charge of a lawsuit that he filed nearly three years ago against MSNBC host Joy Reid.
Earlier this year, Reid’s attorneys argued that Wood was “unfit to practice in this or any other court,” in light of his post-election efforts to “subvert the Constitution and the rule of law,” his “scurrilous” attacks against Chief Justice John Roberts, and a litany of “frivolous and vexatious actions.” The motion sought to revoke Wood’s pro hac vice permission to practice before the court, permission attorneys must receive to practice in a jurisdiction where they are not licensed.
Wood’s latest motion claims that his departure from Reid’s case “moots” the disqualification motion leveled against him by Reid’s attorneys, which aimed to oust him from appearing pro hac vice in court proceedings for a second time since the 2020 election. A Delaware judge booted him from representing Carter Page earlier this year in a ruling slamming his “toxic brew of mendacity.”
A lot has happened since Wood filed suit on behalf of Roslyn La Liberte in 2018. The well-known defamation attorney previously represented the JonBenét Ramsey family and rehabilitated the life and image Richard Jewell, the man falsely accused of the Atlanta Olympics bombing. Wood enjoyed that public image when he filed that case along with his former law partners, who sued him two years later in a salacious lawsuit accusing him of assault and increasingly erratic behavior between 2019 through the lead-up to the 2020 election.
This is the period when Wood became a star of the political right, met with then-President Donald Trump, and started airing his theory that Chief Justice Roberts was part of a pedophile ring. The post-election era brought about a spate of other conspiracy peddling lawsuits from Wood and others, alleging an international plot bringing together Dominion Voting Machines, local officials and foreign powers to install Joe Biden as president. He regularly shared those theories with his hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, which banned him the day after the U.S. Capitol riot. He later appeared to suggest on Parler that former vice president Mike Pence should be executed by firing squad. Wood claimed that the Parler post was “rhetorical hyperbole conveying my opinion that [Pence’s] actions on the Electoral College vote were treasonous to We The People.”
His now-former client La Liberte, a MAGA-hatted woman who claims Reid defamed her by misrepresenting her interactions with Latino teenager in a viral photograph, recently told a federal judge through an attorney that Wood’s current status as a “political lightning rod” has become a distraction.
“Ms. La Liberte sought out Mr. Wood’s representation as one of the leading plaintiff’s defamation lawyers in this country,” her lawyer David M. Olasov wrote in a letter to the judge on Monday. “But, in political affairs involving interests and involvements of Mr. Wood having nothing to do with this case or Ms. La Liberte’s representation, Mr. Wood has become a focus of sharp political attention in Georgia, from which he practiced law for decades, as well as in his new residence of South Carolina, in which he is now a candidate for a high Republican party position. He has become a political lightning rod of a fashion.”
In an email, Wood rejected the characterization of his departure from the case as a withdrawal.
“I was substituted as lead counsel with a great trial lawyer who along with David Olasov, my co-counsel, will do a fabulous legal job for Roslyn,” Wood wrote. “I made the decision to have Roslyn locate a new trial attorney based on my view of the best interests of my client. The frivolous motion to revoke my pro hac vice threatened to delay Roslyn’s meritorious defamation case against Joy Reid and distract from the core issues revealing Reid’s wrongdoing and liability.”
“I am confident I would have prevailed on the motion to revoke, but I felt it was more important to my client that her case move forward without further and unnecessary delay and expense,” he added.
Despite writing that he does not question Wood’s “competency,” Olasov added that the disqualification motion casts a “cloud” over the case. Wood responded to it in court initially by claiming to have “evidence” that Pence is “a traitor” and offered supposed “information about the death of Seth Rich.”
The State Bar of Georgia, on the other hand, does have questions about Wood’s competency, asking the lawyer to take a mental health examination. Wood sued the bar in a lawsuit comparing their request to the Salem Witch Trials. In a separate action, Georgia investigators have probed whether Wood—who has alleged massive voter fraud in lawsuits filed in four states—himself voted illegally in the 2020 election. Wood denied this and called the investigation “pure harassment.” Wood spent much time in his $7.9 million property in South Carolina: a former plantation called Tomotley.
Reid’s First Amendment attorney Ted Boutrous referred a press inquiry to a representative for MSNBC, who declined comment.
Listen to a recent episode about Lin Wood on Law&Crime’s podcast “Objections.”
(Screengrab of Lin Wood via WXIA-TV)
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