Monthly Archives: December 2019

Illinois lawyer who electronically signed an “incoherent” appeal brief written by his client is sanctioned by U.S. Seventh Circuit

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which discusses the recent sanctions imposed by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on an Illinois lawyer who electronically signed an appellate brief which was “incoherent and filled with utterly baseless factual assertions.” apparently drafted by his client.  The case is Edith McCurry v. Kenco Logistics Services,  No. No. 18-3206.  The November 7, 2019 opinion with an Order to Show Cause what sanctions should be imposed is here:  http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2019/D11-07/C:18-3206:J:Sykes:aut:T:fnOp:N:2426737:S:0 and the December 16, 2019 Order imposing sanctions on the lawyer is here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bB6rl4nyIbhBPMUGAHYjov1t3ez5cpWW/view

The November 7, 2019 opinion upheld the dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit filed by the client stating “(t)his appeal represents a shameful waste of judicial resources.  The opinion also ordered the lawyer to show cause as to why he should not be sanctioned.  According to the opinion, “(t)he hopelessness of (the plaintiff’s) cause didn’t deter her lawyer, Jordan Hoffman, from signing and submitting a bizarre appellate brief laden with assertions that have no basis in the record and arguments that have no basis in the law.  In so doing, Hoffman violated Rule 28 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.”

The opinion also stated that the “monstrosity of an appellate brief” was “incoherent,” and the appeal was “utterly frivolous.”  The brief “spans 86 interminable pages”, is “neither concise nor clear,” and “is chock-full of impenetrable arguments and unsupported assertions, and it is organized in ways that escape our understanding.” In a footnote, the opinion also stated that the brief was “a typographical nightmare” that “uses five different fonts and various font sizes, including three different fonts in one sentence, and capitalizes words seemingly at random.”

The lawyer, who had been practicing for over 30 years, responded to the Order to Show Cause stating that he did not have time to write an appellate brief or review the lower court record and did not recognize that it was “a hopeless case.” He also said that the client was a friend who had filed the discrimination lawsuit without a lawyer and that he agreed to appear on her behalf at oral argument.  He also admitted that he had permitted her to submit the brief under his name using his electronic filing credentials.

The lawyer stated that “these were all grave errors of judgment, and I can only apologize to the court and promise that I will never allow this occur again.”  “I have suffered through the most embarrassing and stressful moments of my legal career and perhaps my life during the oral argument and after the publication of the court’s opinion, and my reputation has been tarnished at the highest level as a result of my actions that caused such a scathing opinion in this matter.”  He further stated that he “embarrassed the venerable profession of law and the bar to which I have enjoyed the privilege of being a member for over 32 years during which time my competence has not been called into question.”

In the December 16, 2019 Order, the court stated that “Hoffman’s acceptance of responsibility is appropriate. Still, judicial resources were needlessly consumed, and the defendants were put to the burden and expense of sorting through and defending against a patently frivolous appeal. Sanctions are therefore warranted. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 38, we order Hoffmann to pay the defendants a reasonable attorney’s fee incurred in the defense of this appeal, plus double costs. The defendants shall submit a statement of their fees and costs by January 3, 2020.”

Bottom line:  This is an example of what can go horribly wrong if a lawyer agrees to represent a “friend” as a client, fails to competently represent that client, and allows the client to draft and use his credentials to electronically file a “monstrosity” of a brief.  This lawyer was embarrassed professionally and was required to pay the opposing party’s attorney’s fees and double costs under the federal rules.  Don’t do it…

…and be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

Please note:  My office has moved and the new office address is 2999 Alt. 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34683.  All other contact information remains the same.

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

 

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Filed under Attorney discipline, Attorney Ethics, competence, Federal Court Sanctions incoherent brief, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, lack of diligence negligence, Lawyer diligence, Lawyer discipline, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer negligence, Uncategorized

Tennessee judge is reprimanded for “liking” and “sharing” Facebook posts and articles on divisive social issues

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss a recent reprimand of a Tennessee judge for “liking” and “sharing” Facebook posts on divisive social issues.  The case is Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct Complaints No. B19-7753 & B19-7777 (Nov. 15, 2019) and the November 15, 2019 reprimand is here:  https://media.myfoxmemphiscom.cmgdigital.com/document_dev/2019/11/18/lammey%20reprimand%20letter_16841943_ver1.0.pdf

According to the reprimand letter, among other allegations, the judge shared an article on Facebook by a holocaust denier that stated that some people needed to “get the f*** over the Holocaust” as “an interesting read” (although the letter states that he was found not to be a “holocaust denier”).  The judge also “shared” images on Facebook which reflected “a strong position on professional athletes kneeling during the national anthem”; opposed support for Hillary Clinton and the black lives matter movement; expressed a position on “anti-Jihadist sentiment,” and reflected a “bias in favor of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.”

The reprimand states that the board found no proof that the judge showed “actual bias, prejudice toward any litigant who appeared before him or that he made “anti-Semitic, racist, or anti-immigration” statements; however, it did find that his “likes” and “shares” were “partisan in nature” and, as a result, the judge’s conduct had the “appearance of impropriety,” reflected adversely on his “impartiality and temperament” and could “reasonably be perceived as prejudiced or biased.” (citing judicial canons).

The judge accepted the public reprimand and, as a condition, he agreed to “refrain from making any future comments or disseminate any substantially similar social media posts on any social media platform that may be reasonably be perceived as prejudiced or biased,” make his social media platforms “private”, and complete a judicial ethics program approved by the Board.

Bottom line:  This is another interesting example of a social media presence gone awry.  Although this judge never made any comments regarding the articles that he “shared” or “liked”, he was found to have violated the Tennessee Canons of Judicial Conduct and reprimanded.

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

Please note:  My office has moved and the new office address is 2999 Alt. 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34683.  All other contact information remains the same.

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Judge discipline Facebook posts, Judge discipline social media likes and shares, Judicial discipline social media ethics, Judicial ethics, Judicial Ethics Facebook and LinkedIn, Uncategorized