A Philadelphia attorney who was representing President Trump’s campaign has been reportedly placed under official protection after threats were made against her.
Noting court papers filed on Wednesday, the New York Post reported, “Philadelphia lawyer Linda Kerns ‘has been the subject of threats of harm, to the point at which the involvement of police and U.S. Marshals has been necessary to provide for her safety,’ the filing says.” The Post added, “The stunning revelation came two days after Kerns, a solo practitioner, sought sanctions against a lawyer from the firm representing Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar for leaving her an ‘abusive voicemail on Saturday night.’”
The phone call came from a junior attorney at Kirkland & Ellis. Daniel Donovan, Kirkland’s lead attorney on the election suit targeting Pennsylvania, told the court on Monday, “That associate was acting unilaterally, in his personal capacity, without the knowledge or authorization of undersigned counsel or the Firm … The associate provided a personal email and had a baby babbling in the background during the voicemail,” according to Politico.
The document filed Monday seeking sanctions showed Kern’s claim: “Since this case was filed, undersigned counsel has been subjected to continuous harassment in the form of abusive e-mails, phone calls, physical and economic threats, and even accusations of treason — all for representing the President of the United States’ campaign in this litigation.”
“It is one thing for members of the public to break the laws of decorum, or even laws of Pennsylvania or the United States, by engaging in such harassment,” Kerns continued. “This Court’s role is not to protect counsel from such attacks. But it is another thing for a lawyer in the Washington, D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis, Secretary Boockvar’s outside counsel, to do so. And yet that is what happened. It is quintessentially the Court’s role to police and appropriately sanction law firms appearing in front of it for such conduct. It is plaintiff’s obligation to defend its counsel, and it does so now by respectfully moving for an order for Kirkland & Ellis to show cause justifying the conduct of its lawyers.”
“Contacted about this message, Secretary Boockvar’s counsel first opined that despite the caller identification on the voicemail the call may not have been placed from Kirkland & Ellis,” Kerns wrote, adding:
Confronted with the fact that the firm issues cell phones to its lawyers and it should be easy to check a directory to confirm that this number belongs to one of his colleagues, opposing counsel finally admitted that it did, but then excused the conduct by saying the lawyer (who works in the same office) does not work on this case or in litigation, and offering that the call was “discourteous” and apologizing for wasting time.
That is not good enough under the Rules of this Court or the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, and this Court’s authority to issue sanctions exists in order to protect litigants, counsel, and the Rules themselves. It is sad that we currently reside in a world where abuse and harassment are the costs of taking on a representation unpopular with some. It is sanctionable when that abuse and harassment comes from an elite law firm representing the Secretary of State.
After she submitted the document seeking sanctions on Monday, Kerns submitted papers with the U.S. District Court stating that she wanted to withdraw from the effort the Trump campaign was making to challenge the results in Pennsylvania, ABC News reported.
In an unrelated note, Politico reported, “Some of the most prominent figures urging law firms to back out of Trump’s legal defense are associated with the Lincoln Project, a group of current and former Republican political consultants and activists who ran ads against Trump during the campaign and promised a similar media fusillade against the firms.”