Monday, April 28, 2008
Posted by Alan Childress
Two weeks ago, we reported on the unusual Fifth Circuit order which required an unprepared lawyer to serve on his client a copy of the highly-critical judicial opinion. This morning, we were forwarded, originally by someone anonymous, a copy of an April 14 order by a federal district court in Oklahoma's Western District. The Judge found the attorney (a defense attorney representing an insurance company) to be "highly unprofessional" in his correspondence with plaintiff's two counsel. Selections: "Your self-serving comments are putting me to sleep." "Can you not say anything in a page or less?" "You're just a broker who refers difficult cases to experienced attorneys." "Be like a potted plant and sit quietly in the corner."
She ordered the offending attorney "to submit to the Oklahoma Bar Journal for publication an article pertaining to civility and professionalism as they relate to adversary proceedings." He has six months to write it. The Judge's opinion is available in PDF: Download 07-cv-868.pdf. The attorney is Gerard Pignato and, thankfully, there is no mention of his law school in the opinion (but it is neither Tulane nor a Loyola). Magazines, left, apparently make good disciplinary tools.
True, the Oklahoma Bar Journal has a proud history of publishing cutting-edge scholars -- my 1983 article on this newfangled Lexis contraption from the Mead paper company comes readily to mind. But there is nothing in the order which makes the journal accept the submission. Yet they might, if they give preference to repeat players. Because it turns out, not mentioned in the opinion, that the AV-rated Mr. Pignato has (like me) already published on legal ethics in that journal.
I am pretty sure this is not how Cass Sunstein got started.