Saturday, March 5, 2005

Due to sloppy research, lawyers lose motion AND get a scolding

Defense counsel moved to dismiss four of the six counts of a Section 1983 action. Alas, they cited a case that was no longer good law because of a subsequent U.S. Supreme Court case, and they missed another case that was directly on point for a different issue.


The judge (Judge Gene E.K. Pratter) denied the motion and let the lawyers know that she was not at all pleased by their work.

If the Motion to Dismiss and the accompanying Brief in Support had displayed but a single example of less than exemplary research or analysis, it would have gone unaddressed here inasmuch as occasional oversights, while disappointing, are understandable, generally innocent, and sometimes unavoidable. However, here, the incidents of deficiencies are too numerous to ignore and too fundamental to excuse. Inasmuch as defense counsel are seasoned and experienced attorneys who know well their obligations as advocates, including those set forth in Rules 1.1, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 and 5.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Court looks forward to an improved, heightened standard of submissions from counsel as this
case proceeds.

Spirk v. Centennial Sch. Dist., No. 04-cv-4821, at 13 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 22, 2005), available here.

An article about the case (including a statement from the defense firm responding to the ruling) is at:

If you're in the mood for similar cases, see this piece from last week's Crier, and When Judges Scold Lawyers in Law Library Journal.

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