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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Beware, again: 7th Circuit sanctions attorney

Recall the discussion late last month about the 7th Circuuit opinion in Smoot v. Mazda Motors, where, to quote an ILB reader who listened to the oral argument, "Judges Posner and Easterbrook flay both counsel like they were pulling the wings off of a fly"? (See this ILB entry from Nov. 29th.) Today, the fine blog, Decision of the Day ("a daily sumary of the best and worst of federal appellate decisions"), reports:

I’ve blogged before about lawyers in the Seventh Circuit getting bench-slapped left and right for making commonplace mistakes. Most recently, the Court cracked down on attorneys who failed to submit a proper jurisdictional statement. Today, the Court decides that its next target will be attorneys who fail to file a proper appendix. Its first victim is an attorney in a criminal appeal who failed to submit a copy of the judgment being appealed and a transcript of the challenged portion of the decision, as required by the rules. The attorney then incorrectly certified that he had submitted all the required documents. For that, the attorney earns a $1000 fine.
The case is U.S. v. White, the very same case the ILB reported on earlier today (see here) - the one about the Gary politician getting his hand caught in the cookie jar. From p. 11 of the ruling:
The appendix included in the appellant’s brief contained a mere five pages of Indiana statutes. There was no copy of the judgment being appealed. There was no transcript of the rationale given by the district court in the challenged oral decision. The appellant’s counsel then compounded these errors by incorrectly certifying to this court that the appendix complied with the procedural requirements.

The Federal Rule and our Circuit Rule are not created for the purpose of imposing frivolous requirements on attorneys who are already busy. The purpose of these rules is to ensure that the court has “all necessary documents before it as it considers the parties’ arguments and renders its decision.” * * *

We are not without remedies in this matter. In the past we have dismissed the appeal. * * *

Ordering the appellant to resubmit the brief seems counterproductive in this case. * * *

We are left then with the question of whether the court should fine the appellant’s attorney for violating Rule 30.

In Hill we fined appellant’s counsel $1000 for failing to comply with Rule 30. In accordance with the Hill line of cases we will impose a fine of $1000 on counsel for White unless they can show that such a fine would be inappropriate under the circumstances of the case.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 19, 2006 04:35 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions