Prior to an eviction trial, I had to attend a deposition at the landlord's attorney office. Due to my low income, I am unable to hire an attorney, and therefore, attended alone. Not only did this unethical attorney became belligerent, and block the exit to his conference room, - in horror - I had called to call 911.
Moreover, I received ill-advice from the non-profit legal aid who said to just say at the court hearing that the attorney's documents (there were many documents) "were confusing" and then remained silent during the court hearing. The judge agreed with me in that I was a layperson and was not going to sanction. However, the landlord's attorney argued and demanded until he wore down the judge. Much to my disadvantage, the aggressive attorney obtained a $2,000 sanction
. . . $2,000 sanction against me. As I mentioned I truly do not have the funds. In addition, the non-profit legal aid knows these belligerent attorney, in person. And therefore, they appear to be afraid of him, and would not assist me further.
File a notice of appeal. You could also file a writ in the court and then appellate court. The chances are very slim you would win because income is not a factor in most sanctions.
This is just my opinion and not a comprehensive answer. You assume the risk because this answer may not apply to your situation depending on the facts.
Family Law Attorney
I am sorry about your situation. As the others have said, it is best to consult with a lawyer in-person since each sanctions case is very fact-dependent. I would normally say find a legal-aid lawyer, but it sounds like your experience doing so was not good.
In my experience, the ability to pay the sanction does figure in to the decision to order sanctions, but only a little bit. The most important concern is the behavior that gave rise to the sanction in the first place. Ultimately, being poor is not an excuse to do all sorts of acts without penalty. You don't say what your sanctions were imposed for or what the lawyer did to convince the judge to sanction you. That will go a long way to determining whether you can get out of paying and be what your lawyer can help you with.
Does the sanctions paperwork say that you have to pay the sanctions to continue your case?
Hope that helps.
The answer provided above is based upon California and/or New York law and is based solely upon the limited information provided by the poster. A future in-person consultation may reveal additional facts that may change the answer provided.