Thursday, April 11, 2013

Perils Of Pro Bono

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of a legal malpractice claim brought against WilmerHale.

The plaintiff is a licensed attorney. The law firm had represented him and others pro bono in challenging the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" treatment of gays in the military.

The "overarching allegation" of the litigation was that the law firm threw the case to curry favor with the Obama administration.

The plaintiff raised thirty three points of error on appeal, which the court said "ranged from the arguable to patently frivolous."

The court agreed with WilmerHale that the plaintiff's "conduct in this case was a shocking abuse of the judicial system" but nonetheless reached the merits of the plaintiff's claims and found no basis to overturn the dismissal.

There was a warning:

Discerning no reversible error, we affirm. But that there be no misunderstanding, we make clear that this court will protect the process of an orderly trial and respect for the trial court's orders. Where a party engages in contumacious behavior, utterly inconsistent with the orderly administration of justice, such as [the plaintiff] did here, dismissal is an appropriate sanction within the exercise of the trial court's discretion.

(Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2013/04/perils-of-pro-bono.html

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