Thursday, June 23, 2022

E-Filing Errors No Basis To Disqualify Counsel

The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed an order disqualifying an insurer's out-of-state defense counsel in COVID coverage litigation brought by the University of Arkansas

the [circuit] court ruled that Goldman’s pro hac vice admission was revoked because several of the exhibits filed in support of Travelers’ motion contained external hyperlinks to websites in violation of Arkansas Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 21, Section 9. The circuit court stated that these violations had “the ability to affect the integrity of the entire Arkansas judicial electronic filing system” and were “substantial and material violations of the Administrative Orders of the Arkansas Supreme Court.” Remaining local counsel were ordered to immediately remove all offending materials from their electronic filing and were given leave to file replacement exhibits, which Travelers did.

Too thin a reed

We agree that the circuit court abused its discretion by revoking Goldman’s pro hac vice admission. The circuit court did not find that Goldman had committed any violation of the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct. Instead, the circuit court, without giving notice to appellants or an opportunity for them to be heard, summarily concluded that the failure to comply with an electronic-filing provision warranted the disqualification of Goldman simply because he was listed as one of the signors of the motion. This ruling was a drastic measure that does not comport with the provisions in Rule XIV(g) regarding revocation of a nonresident attorney’s admission. Thus, we reverse the circuit court’s ruling disqualifying Goldman from representing Travelers and remand.

The court declined to consider issues relating to the exclusion of unvaccinated jurors. (Mike Frisch)

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