► 09/2015 Ethics Complaint v. Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver Print E-mail
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09/2015 Ethics Complaint v. Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver


September 9, 2015


David Palmer

Folsom, California 95630

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Florida State Bar

Attorney/Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP)

651 East Jefferson Street

Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300


Ethics Complaint re:


Attorney Matthew Duane Staver

Admit Florida Bar Oct 6, 1987

Law Firm: Liberty Counsel

PO Box 540774
Orlando, FL 32854-0774



In an attempt to be as concise as possible regarding the egregious nature of Mr. Staver’s misconduct, I will list the instances of same under separate headings in relationship to the violations of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct.


First and foremost it is indeed a sad commentary on the legal profession when someone of Mr. Staver’s ilk finds it acceptable to knowingly and repeatedly violate the oath he took as an Officer of the Court.


More disturbing is the undisputed fact that Mr. Staver’s serial violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct were specifically aimed at self-promotion and an ongoing effort to unjustly enrich himself. Towards that end he found it acceptable to viciously attack members of the gay community and the courts that have ruled in favor of marriage equality.


Even more disturbing, is Mr. Staver’s repeated statements wherein he advocates for and/or counsels for non-compliance with the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.


Put simply, Mr. Staver is not in the mold of Joan of Arc as he portrays himself, but is nothing more than a Elmer Gantry Wannabee who engages in the distribution of and selling of snake oil; albeit at an exorbitant price.


Rule 4-1.1 Competence states: “A lawyer shall provide competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”


A cursory review of the facts set forth herein in regards to Mr. Staver’s outrageous behavior clearly establishes that he has repeatedly and knowingly failed to provide competent representation to his client Ms. Davis by counseling her to repeatedly disobey the orders of District Court Judge David Bunning and the ruling regarding marriage equality set down by the U.S. Supreme Court.


To counsel a client that it is acceptable to refuse to comply with a court order knowing that the client will in fact be held in contempt of court is the height of incompetency. To do so under the guise of religion makes Mr. Staver guilty of chutzpah in the first degree.


If a client failed to comply with an attorney’s advice that he/she must comply with a court order, then the attorney is left with little choice but to withdraw his representation. In this case, Mr. Staver wasn’t acting as an advocate for his client; he was acting as an advocate for his own personal gain and enrichment.


09/04/15 Staver Press Release re: sham lawsuit


Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Gov. Beshear sent a letter to Ms. Davis and other county clerks saying:


“Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe. But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act.”


In his press release posted on his Liberty Counsel website, Mr. Staver said in part:

  • “Governor Beshear is unlawfully picking and choosing the conscience-based exemptions to marriage that he deems acceptable.”
  • “In no uncertain terms, Governor Beshear’s policies and directives are intended to suppress religion—even worse, a particular religious belief.”
  • “Simply put, Governor Beshear is making secularism a litmus test for holding office in Kentucky.”

Staver’s lawsuit on its face is patently absurd, a fact he knew or should have known.


Rule 4-4.1 Truthfulness in Statements to Others: Paragraph (a) states:“In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person.”


Mr. Staver has dedicated his so-called legal career to repeatedly and knowingly spewing forth an assortment of false statements to third persons. Examples of same are as follows:


09/04/15 press conference


In speaking to the press outside the Carter County Kentucky Detention Center, Mr. Staver made the following statement.


“Despite being held as a prisoner for her religious beliefs, her conscience remains unshackled.”


It is patently clear that Ms. Davis was imprisoned by Judge Bunning because she repeatedly refused to comply with a valid court order, which led to her being found in contempt of court. Therefore, Staver knowingly made a false statement of fact to a third person and/or third persons.


Rule 4-8.4 Misconduct:Paragraph (a) states: “A lawyer shall not violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct.”


Mr. Staver’s misconduct as mentioned herein was a knowing attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct. He cannot be heard by the State Bar and/or Florida Supreme Court to feign ignorance of his sworn duty to comply with the Professional Rules of Conduct.


Rule 4-8.4 Misconduct: Paragraph (c) states: “A lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.”


By counseling others that they need not comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, Mr. Staver is guilty of conduct involving dishonesty and/or misrepresentation.


It cannot be disputed that Staver well knows that as an Officer of the Court he is obligated to comply with orders and/or rulings that emanate from the U.S. Supreme Court. Advising others to collectively “thumb their noses” at the authority of the Supreme Court constitutes a knowing misrepresentation of the law.


Rule 4-8.4 Misconduct: Paragraph (d) states:  "A lawyer shall not engage in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, including to knowingly, or through callous indifference, disparage, humiliate, or discriminate against litigants, jurors, witnesses, court personnel, or other lawyers on any basis, including, but not limited to, on account of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, employment, or physical characteristic.”


Conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice & uttering disparaging

comments about the Judiciary


Mr. Staver’s comments as set forth below clearly demonstrate that he has knowingly, repeatedly and unabashedly attacked the credibility and integrity of the U.S. Supreme Court and District Court Judge David Bunning.


Unfortunately, it is abundantly clear that Mr. Staver’s comments were aimed at fanning the fires of bigotry and hatred for the sole purposes of self promotion and to unjustly enrich himself.


After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its marriage equality ruling, Mr. Staver made the following “disparaging” comments about the Justices of the Supreme Court.

  • The ruling is “an opinion of five people that have thrown away millennia of human history, and literally brought judgment upon themselves and, frankly, I think, the nation if the nation accepts what they have done.”
  • “This is the Rosa Parks on the bus.”
  • “If they [Supreme Court] tell you to go to the back of the bus because your skin color doesn’t match what they want don’t go to the back of the bus.”
  • “This is the time for peaceful resistance, and this is the time to stand with people who are engaged in peaceful resistance.”
  • “This is the time like of the Nazi Germany when they’d knock on your door.”
  • “Is there a Jew in your house?’ Well, if you say 'yes,' than the Jew is dead; if you say 'no,' then you’re dead.”

To equate the Supreme Court’s actions as being analogous to a Nazi knocking on the door of a Jew is despicable.


04/25/15 speech before National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage


During his speech, Mrt. Staver made the following statement: 


“As someonewho’s argued before the United States Supreme Court, I have great respect for this court, but have no respect and cannot respect a lawless decision.”


In this instance, it cannot be disputed that Mr. Staver is claiming that the justices of the Supreme Court are lawbreakers who are guilty of engaging in lawless conduct.


It would be perfectly acceptable for Mr. Staver or any other lawyer to disagree with a court’s ruling; however, in doing so the actor is not allowed to refer to the members of the court as despotic lawbreakers.


09/04/15 statement that same-sex marriage licenses not valid


While speaking to the media outside the Carter County Detention Center, Mr. Staver made the following statement in regards to marriage licenses issued to gay couples.


The marriage licenses are “not worth the paper they’re written on” because they were issued by Davis’ deputies.


Staver knows that under Kentucky law, deputy county clerks have the legal authority to issue marriage licenses. Therefore, he absolutely knew that his statement was materially false.


Encouraging noncompliance with Supreme Court rulings


March 2015 Tea Party speech in Orlando


Mr. Staver made the following statements in regards to the forthcoming Supreme Court marriage equality ruling.

  • “I know from the natural, created order God made male and female — mom and dad, husbands and wives — as the first foundation of family.”
  • “And I don’t care if it’s a nine to zero, whatever to zero, whatever decision it is.”
  • “They can’t change that. And they won’t change that.”  
  • “And if they come out with a decision that is contrary to God’s natural, created order, I personally will advocate disobedience to it.”
  • “I will advocate disobedience to it, and collectively, we cannot respect that as the rule of law.”

April 2015, pledge vowing to resist Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling


Mr. Staver authored the following pledge containing the following statements:

  • “Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State.”
  • “No civil institution, including the United States Supreme Court or any court, has authority to redefine marriage.”
  • “Neither the United States Supreme Court nor any court has authority to redefine marriage and thereby weaken both the family and society.”
  • Our highest respect for the rule of law requiresthat we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law.”

Staver well knows that a ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States becomes the law of the land. In this instance, Staver again impugns the integrity and authority of the Supreme Court.


Again we have Mr. Staver disparaging the Supreme Court by arguing that he is under no duty to respect the court’s ruling. His argument that the court’s ruling conflicts with God’s law is without merit. In fact, he well knows that there is no such thing as God’s law that is contained in the U.S. Constitution.


04/29/15 appearing on Newsmax’s American Forum


During this appearance, Staver said that pledging to defy the possible [Supreme Court] ruling on marriage equality would be a litmus test for all presidential hopefuls.

  • “We’re going to ask every presidential candidate – Republican and Democrat to sign on this pledge."

Here we have Staver demanding that all 2015 presidential hopefuls to defy the Supreme Court ruling.


Disparaging comments aimed at U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning


While commenting on U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning’s ruling finding Ms. Davis in contempt of court for refusing to comply with his orders and those of the U.S. Supreme Court, Staver condemned Just Bunning by referring to the contempt proceedings as a “charade.”

  • “You cannot obey something that is contrary to God's law.”
  • “And we would easily say, well, what would happen if the government forced you turn over a Jew in Nazi Germany?”
  • “All of us would say we wouldn't do that, we wouldn't listen to that.”
  • “Well, we're about ready to walk into the moment.”

To equate the marriage equality ruling and Judge Bunning’s enforcement of same as being analogous to “turning over a Jew to the Nazis” is obscene. It only shows how far Mr. Staver is willing to go in debasing the judiciary.


09/08/15 statements on “Wallbuilders Live” radio


In this matter, Mr. Staver made the following statements in regards to Judge Dunning’s order that his client Ms. Davis must comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality.


Requiring Ms. Davis to do her job is like requiring her “to grant a license to engage in pornography, to grant a license to sodomize children or something of that nature.”


To suggest that Judge Dunning’s order and/or that of the Supreme Court on the mandate to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is the equivalent of granting a license to sodomize children is not only preposterous, but it further proves that Mr. Staver is contemptuous of the courts and his oath of office as an attorney.




David Palmer


PS:  Please provide me with a copy of Mr. Staver’s response.


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