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Sanctions against an attorney

Stamford, CT |

I know that in theory a court can sanction an attorney for violating rules of professional conduct, but in reality does this happen so rarely that pursuing a complaint against an attorney is usually a waste of time?
Understandably, two opposing parties may have a different understanding of the facts and how they apply to the law and can pursue a good faith claim based on that. However, after a bench trial that went horribly for him, in the event that an attorney literally fabricates findings of facts and memorandum of law as if a work of fiction, are the courts likely to sanction him? To compound the mess, a judge literally cut and pasted this attorney's screed into a "decision" that bore no resemblance to evidence or law. On appeal, we are confident it will be overturned.

In addition to the fact that the decision was a deplorable cut and paste job from an incompetent and dishonest attorney's work, it contained not one citation to the trial or case law. So inadequately supported was the decision, that we requested an articulation from the judge. Denied. We petitioned the appeals court to order an articulation. They compelled the judge to articulate his decision. The judge then ORDERED us all to produce "proposed articulations" for him!! So, we, of course, articulated why the decision was fundamentally and factually in error and law. The entire body bore no resemblance to actual facts discovered at trial. The judge again literally cut and pasted 85% of the work as "his" articulation. We appealed and will likely be hearing the appeals court decision shortly. Any thoughts on this are appreciated.

Attorney Answers 1


  1. Clearly the court didn't think the other attorney did a bad job, so that judge won't be filing a grievance against him. You object to many of the judge's findings of fact which were cut and pasted from the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law drafted by the attorney. If the judge adopted them, then the judge felt they were supported by the evidence. Therefore, filing a grievance against the attorney yourself would likely be fruitless.

    A judge can issue findings of fact and conclusions of law not only from the facts actually presented as evidence, but also those inferred from other facts that were proven. For instance, a fact would be that Robinson Crusoe, while walking on the beach found footprints that didn't match his. From this a judge could find the following facts: Robinson Crusoe was on the beach; Robinson Crusoe can walk; Robinson Crusoe has feet; Robinson Crusoe found footprints that didn't match his; There was another person who was on the island besides Robinson Crusoe.

    That all being said, the judge's discretion in finding facts, while extremely broad, can be overturned on appeal if the court thinks that based on the evidence presented the findings were an abuse of the judge's discretion. It doesn't happen often, but it is possible.

    Good luck.

    **Disclaimer: Charles F. Basil is licensed in CT only. Any opinion given is based upon the general principles of law, but local laws may vary. This opinion is given for informational purposes only, and no attorney client relationship has been formed. Opinions on a website can not and should not supplant the advice of an attorney presented with all of the facts in your jurisdiction.**