Reference Library - Court Decisions
Bevil v. Rawlings Co.
70 Virginia Circuit Court Reports 3 (2005)
In this case, sanctions were ordered against a lawyer who filed false statements with the Virginia Circuit Court in violation of Virginia Code § 8.01-271.1. The attorney for the plaintiff certified in a praecipe that the case was matured for trial on its merits when trial no process had been issued nor service obtained. After more than one year had elapsed since the suit was filed, the trial court found no evidence that the attorney had made any effort to effect service of process upon the company. The attorney was ordered to pay the defendant company $500 and to take and satisfactorily complete the Virginia State Bar's Mandatory Professionalism Course. A new action at law was to be opened for the matters relating to the attorney.
Fieger v. Michigan Supreme Court: Slip Copy, 2007 WL 2571975 (2007)
Pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, Plaintiffs Fieger and Steinberg raise constitutional challenges to the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct [“MRPC”] 3.5(c) and 6.5(a), often referred to as the courtesy and civility provisions [“courtesy provisions”]. Enacted by the Michigan Supreme Court, these rules place restrictions on attorney conduct, including attorney speech. MRPC 3 .5(c) applies to attorney conduct directed toward tribunals, whereas MRPC 6.5(a) relates to attorney conduct toward all persons involved in the legal process. Plaintiffs raise facial challenges to these courtesy provisions arguing that they violate both the First Amendment right to free speech and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they are overly broad and vague.
Order from U.S. District Judge Wayne Alley, Federal District Court of Oklahoma (February, 1989)
This is the only reported instance of a judge ordering a lawyer to "go to Hell."
"Defendant's motion to dismiss or in the alternative to continue trial is denied. If the recitals in the briefs are accepted at face value neither side has conducted discovery according to the letter and spirit of the Oklahoma County Bar Association Lawyers Creed. This is an aspirational creed, not subject to enforcement by this court. But violative conduct does call for judical disapprobation at least. If there is a Hell to which disputatious, uncivil, vituperative lawyers go, let it be one in which the damned are eternally locked in discovery disputes with other lawyers of equally repugnant attributes."
Paschall v. State of Indiana
825 North Eastern Reporter Second Series 923 (2005)
Defendant was charged with unlawful weapons possession when he was found with a shotgun in two pieces. He was convicted and appealed, arguing that prosecutorial misconduct placed him in grave peril and that his sentence was improper. The trial court and the appellate court admonished the prosecutor for his unprofessional, objectionable and potentially sanctionable conduct that continued throughout the court proceedings. Telling opposing counsel, in front of the jury, that counsel was not being truthful or was making "smarmy" comments, was offensive behavior against the Oath of Attorneys in Ind. R. Admis. Bar & Disc. Att'ys 22. However, while the conduct was unprofessional, objectionable, and potentially sanctionable, it did not place defendant in grave peril because the State had a strong, if unprofessionally presented, case.
Slagle v. Bagley: 474 F.3d 923, C.A. 6, 2007. (2007)
The Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility provides that the “responsibility of a public prosecutor differs from that of the usual advocate,” in that “his duty is to seek justice, not merely to convict.” Ohio Code of Prof. Resp. More specifically, the Disciplinary Rules prohibit every lawyer from “assert[ing] his personal opinion as to the justness of a cause, as to the credibility of a witness, ... or as to the guilt or innocence of an accused.” An attorney is prohibited from referring to facts “that will not be supported by admissible evidence,” or “ask[ing] any question that he has no reasonable basis to believe is relevant to the case and that is intended to degrade a witness or other person.”. In the trial of Billy Slagle, the prosecutor indisputably violated these obligations and likely did so intentionally thus betraying not only his ethical duty to his office and his profession, but to the citizens of Ohio who elected him. The repeated, unduly prejudicial comments of the prosecutor in this case were considered highly improper.
Wersal v. Sexton: Slip Copy, 2008 WL 2890971, D.Minn.,2008 (2008)
In his Complaint, Wersal brought First Amendment challenges to canons of the Minnesota Code of Judicial Conduct that prohibit a judge or a candidate for judicial office from publicly endorsing other candidates for public office, soliciting funds for a political organization, and personally soliciting campaign contributions. Wersal sought a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants, who were members of the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards and the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, from disciplining him if he engaged in the activities prohibited by the challenged canons. Wersal's motion was denied.