Thursday, October 18, 2012

Attorney sanctioned for ex parte gift of wine to judge

Last August we told you about a South Florida attorney whose vituperative response to a bankruptcy court's order (among other things, the attorney called the court's findings "half-baked") raised eyebrows around the blogosphere (here and here). The attorney then got himself into deeper trouble by sending the judge a bottle of wine along with an ex parte note offering to privately patch things up. As a result, the court sanctioned him, he appealed and the Eleventh Circuit just affirmed. The South Florida Lawyers Blog takes it from there:

Boy I remember the days when you could smooth over a dispute with a federal judge simply by delivering a nice bottle of wine and a hand-written note on the judge's doorstep.

Actually, I don't ever remember those days.

Regardless, the 11th has weighed in and affirmed the sanctions order:

Gleason has identified no authority supporting his contention that the First Amendment shields from sanctions an attorney who files an inappropriate and unprofessional pleading and then contacts a presiding judge ex parte with an offer to share a bottle of wine and “privately” resolve their dispute. When an attorney files inappropriate and unprofessional documents, a court may impose sanctions based on its “inherent power to oversee attorneys practicing before it.” Thomas v. Tenneco Packaging Co., 293 F.3d 1306, 1308 (11th Cir. 2002) (upholding a district court’s decision to sanction an attorney who submitted documents containing personal attacks on opposing counsel).

In the present case, the bankruptcy court found that Gleason’s written submissions to the court and sending a judge a bottle of wine with an offer to resolve their differences privately amounted to “sanctionable professional misconduct.”

Oh well,  I hope somebody drank it, a nice bottle of wine is a terrible thing to waste.

So the lesson, kids, is that you shouldn't call the judge deciding your case a nimrod and then send an ex parte gift of booze in a misguided effort to apologize. 

(jbl).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2012/10/attorney-sanctioned-for-ex-parte-gift-of-wine-to-judge.html

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