Saturday, June 25, 2022

Out In Pioneer Land

The Utah Supreme Court characterized an attorney's opposition to reciprocal discipline from Indiana as a "rambling diatribe" in imposing a one-year suspension

Bernacchi’s briefing repeatedly stoops to name-calling and motive-questioning. See, e.g., Brief of Appellant at 40 (calling OPC staff “Nazis”); Reply Brief of Appellant at 22 (“[T]he leadership of the Utah State Bar and the OPC . . . can’t see or shoot straight out there in pioneer land.”); Brief of Appellant at 16 (characterizing the OPC’s efforts as “gaslighting the third district court judge, this Court, and [Bernacchi]”); id. at 26–27 (asserting that the Indiana disciplinary commission “tricked” and “entrapped” him and engaged in racial bias against him); id. at 28 (characterizing the December 2020 summary judgment hearing as a “sham”); id. at 29 (calling this disciplinary action “pure harassment”); id. at 30 (asserting that OPC “lied” to Judge Corum and engaged in “actual fraud”); id. at 32 (stating that Judge Corum “retaliated” against him for leaving the summary judgment hearing by entering default judgment); id. at 45 (asserting that Judge Corum was “over-focused on his agenda-driven, rigged-justice ‘performance art’”); id. at 53 (stating that Judge Corum “acted[] above the law” and “had been improperly influenced by [OPC]”).

The court here affirmed the district court

We can assume (without deciding) that the district court may have erred in entering a default judgment on this record. That still would not be a basis for reversal. Any such error is harmless given that the district court proceeded to provide an independent, adequate basis for imposition of a reciprocal sanction against Bernacchi on the merits. For that reason, we affirm despite our misgivings with the manner in which the district court arrived at its alternative assertion that it was treating Bernacchi’s misconduct as a basis for a default judgment.

(Mike Frisch)

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