Thursday, February 1, 2007

Appellate Attorney Sanctioned for Dissing Court

The Utah Supreme Court has declined review of a case and ordered the unsuccessful appellant's attorney to pay attorney fees because the briefs had "a substantial amount of materail that is offensive, inappropriate and disrespectful" of the Court of Appeals. Among other things, the lawyer had said that the Court of Appeals fabricated evidence and was destroying "the moral premise of the legal system." Sanctioned for 'Disrespect', ABA Journal eReport, Jan. 26, 2007.

The sanctioned attorney is Boyd Kimball Dyer, who admitted, "I was wrong, and I deserve the sanctions." In his day job, Dyer is a law professor at the University of Utah.

The case is Peters v. Pine Meadow Ranch Home Ass'n, 2007 UT 2 (Jan. 12, 2007). The court offers a lesson in civility:

¶21 There is a misconception among some lawyers and clients that advocacy can be enhanced by personal attacks, overly aggressive conduct, or confrontational tactics. Although it is true that this type of advocacy may occasionally lead to some short-term tactical advantages, our collective experience as a court at various levels of the judicial process has convinced us that it is usually highly counterproductive. It distracts the decision-maker from the merits of the case and erodes the credibility of the advocate. Credibility is often directly tied to civility and professionalism. Judges, jurors, and other lawyers are more likely to believe a lawyer who is courteous and treats others with dignity and respect. Counsel in the case at bar would have been far more effective had he focused exclusively on the facts and the law without making his additional commentary disparaging and insulting the judiciary.

¶22 We have sought to encourage the bar to aspire to professionalism and civility in the practice of law through our adoption of the Standards of Professionalism and Civility. While these standards are not binding, we encourage members of the bar to study and follow them. Had counsel in the cases at bar observed these standards, he and his clients would not have incurred the severe sanctions we impose today.

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