The Connecticut lawyer who defended Alex Jones in a defamation case brought by parents of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre has been benched from representing another high-profile client in the Proud Boys Jan. 6 case.
Attorney Norm Pattis, who called the plight of client Joseph R. Biggs a “righteous fight” when he joined the case in June, was suspended from practicing law by a judge in his home state.
Biggs is charged alongside Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, Zachary Rehl, Dominic Pezzola, and Ethan Nordean with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The five men are accused of plotting to use force to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden‘s 2020 electoral win that day, when mobs of Donald Trump supporters swarmed the Capitol building, causing an estimated $2.7 million in damage and forcing lawmakers and staff to either evacuate the building or shelter in place.
Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis on Thursday had issued an order barring Pattis from practicing law for six months in the state because he had improperly shared protected information of the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre who were suing Jones for defamation.
Pattis has applied for a stay of the suspension from Pattis pending an appeal. The Connecticut Office of Disciplinary Counsel has objected. Bellis has indicated that she will consider the matter during a hearing on Friday.
On Tuesday, Pattis, who was present in court but not participating as a lawyer, told Law&Crime that he expects Bellis to deny his request for a stay, and that if so, he would appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Pattis also indicated that he would expect to win on an “extraordinary circumstances” argument.
“The parties are on the cusp of evidence and have been engaged in two weeks of jury selection,” Pattis said in a court filing regarding the suspension. “Mr. Biggs would be deprived of counsel of choice by his immediate suspension, [and other] defendants would also be prejudiced” by Pattis’ removal from the case.
Pattis told Law&Crime that his antipathy toward Bellis is “no secret,” and he believes that the judge is improperly prejudiced against him.
“The underlying proceedings in Connecticut resulting in suspension arose in a unique context and were conducted by a judicial officer for whom there are good grounds to question impartiality and the application of due process,” Pattis said in his court filing describing Bellis’ ruling.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly noted that federal district court rules require that Pattis be in good standing in his home state in order to continue with the Proud Boys case at this time.
Pattis, for his part, appeared to be in good spirits about the suspension.
“You’re not in court, you’re wearing jeans for six months,” Pattis had joked on Monday. “You call that a punishment?”
That same day, Rehl attorney Carmen Hernandez told Kelly that Pattis is “indispensable” to the defense team and that “losing him at this point would damage or prejudice my defense.” She signaled that if Pattis’ suspension is upheld, she would request a trial continuance until he can resume practicing.
Even without Pattis, Biggs wouldn’t be without representation, as he is also represented by attorney John Daniel Hull. Prosecutor McCullough, however, noted that Hull’s representation itself may raise conflict of interest issues, as he has represented other Jan. 6 defendants and at least one member of the Proud Boys in a deposition before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
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