A State Bar Court judge yesterday issued a 128-page decision recommending that John Eastman, one of former President Trump’s lawyers, be disbarred for “transgress[ing] . . . ethical limits by advocating, participating in and pursuing a strategy to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election that lacked evidentiary or legal support.”

Many media reports suggest that the next stop for the disciplinary proceeding is the California Supreme Court. (See, e.g., the Associated Press: yesterday’s recommendation “now goes to the California Supreme Court for a final ruling on whether he should be disbarred.”) But the court is not necessarily next, or last for that matter.

The disbarment recommendation will probably first go to the State Bar Court’s Review Department, which “must independently review the record and may adopt findings, conclusions, and a decision or recommendation different from those of the hearing judge.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.12.) A petition for review in the Supreme Court “must show that review within the State Bar Court has been exhausted.” (Rule 9.13(e)(1).)

In the unlikely event Eastman himself doesn’t ask for further review, the matter would end up in the Supreme Court anyway. All recommendations for disbarment automatically go to the court, which can choose what to do regardless of what Eastman does.

As with any case other than a death penalty appeal, the Supreme Court can deny review. (Rule 9.16(b).) Unlike other cases, however, a denial “is a final judicial determination on the merits” and is followed by the filing of the State Bar Court’s recommendation “as an order of the Supreme Court.” (Ibid.)

Whatever the state Supreme Court might do, seeking review in the U.S. Supreme Court is an option. For example, if Eastman is unsuccessful in the Review Department and the California Supreme Court, he will likely seek certiorari in the high court, continuing to assert that disciplining him violates his First Amendment rights.

Under the State Bar’s rules of procedure, Eastman has 30 days from yesterday’s decision to ask the State Bar Court’s Review Department to hear his case or, if he first moves for reconsideration, he will have 30 days after a ruling on the motion by the State Bar Court judge. (Rules of Procedure, rules 5.115, 5.151.)