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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of OGT's motion for attorney's fees in a quiet title action. The court held that North Dakota Century Code 35-24-19 does not provide for an award of attorney's fees to the prevailing party in a quiet title action. The court held that the statute was not ambiguous and the court need not address OGT's public policy arguments. View "Oil & Gas Transfer LLC v. Karr" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the judicial misconduct of the Honorable Leonard D. Kachinsky, a former municipal judge for the Village of Fox Crossing Municipal Court, warranted a three-year suspension of eligibility for the position of reserve municipal judge and ordered that Kachinsky petition to the Supreme Court and successfully demonstrate that he is fit to serve as a reserve municipal judge before he may request an appointment to serve as a reserve municipal judge. The Judicial Commission filed a formal complaint against Judge Kachinsky alleging multiple violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct in his interactions with M.B. Following an evidentiary hearing, a panel of the court of appeals issued its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation regarding discipline. The Supreme Court agreed with the Judicial Conduct Panel that, in light of the fact that Judge Kachinsky is no longer an active municipal court judge, an appropriate form of discipline for his misconduct is to suspend his eligibility to serve as a reserve municipal judge. The Court then imposed its sentence, holding that Judge Kachinsky currently lacked the judicial temperament and insight into his actions that are required for a judge to preside over and manage a court. View "Wisconsin Judicial Commission v. Kachinsky" on Justia Law

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Ohio Revised Code 4123.88 addresses how workers' compensation claimant information is handled and protected by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and contains the solicitation ban at issue: “No person shall directly or indirectly solicit authority” (1) to “represent the claimant or employer in respect of” a worker’s compensation “claim or appeal,” or (2) “to take charge of” any such claim or appeal. The district court rejected Bevan's challenge on summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed, concluding that the state has prohibited all solicitation, whether oral or written, by any person to represent a party with respect to an Ohio workers’ compensation claim or appeal and that such a prophylactic ban violates the First Amendment under the Supreme Court’s 1988 "Shapero" decision. The court rejected an argument that the constitutionally questionable language is part of a larger statutory scheme that Bevan allegedly violated by obtaining claimant information from the Bureau in an unlawful manner. Whether Bevan violated other statutory provisions governing disclosure of claimant information is not relevant to whether the solicitation ban itself is constitutional. The solicitation ban makes no distinction as to how the person doing the soliciting learned of the claimant’s information: it bans all solicitation regardless of where or how that information was obtained. The prohibition is repugnant to the First Amendment's free speech clause. View "Bevan & Associates, LPA v. Yost" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the order awarding sanctions and held that there was no evidence to support finding that the attorney violated Code of Civil Procedure section 128.7. The court held that there was no evidence that the attorney presented the complaint to the court within the meaning of section 128.7 before he was served with the motion for sanctions; a new attorney's filing of a declaration merely notifying the court of a change in counsel does not constitute presenting the complaint to the court under section 128.7; and a sanctions order cannot be supported solely by evidence of conduct occurring after the motion is served, because a motion for sanctions under section 128.7 must describe the specific conduct taken by the party to be sanctioned and allow a safe harbor period to withdraw or appropriately correct the sanctionable conduct. View "Primo Hospitality Group, Inc. v. Haney" on Justia Law

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Westech sued 3M in the Western District of Washington, alleging infringement. 3M moved to dismiss the original and amended complaints. While 3M’s motion was pending, the Supreme Court decided, in TC Heartland, that under the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. 1400(b), a corporation “resides” only in its state of incorporation. 3M amended its motion to argue improper venue. Westech sought to amend its complaint and argued that the presence of sales representatives and 3M’s sales in Washington supported venue and that 3M had a “principal place of business” and other business locations at various Washington addresses. At the time of the original complaint, 3M did not own, lease, use, or maintain property at any of the specified locations, and, at the time of the motion did not occupy any of the locations. The district court denied 3M’s motion without prejudice and allowed Westech amend its complaint. In the interim, the Federal Circuit held that section 1400(b) requires a defendant to have a physical place in the district that serves as a regular and established place of business. The district court then dismissed the case. On appeal, 3M sought attorneys’ fees and double costs, arguing that Westech’s appeal was frivolous. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal but denied the motion for fees and costs. Westech’s behavior on appeal bordered on sanctionable, but Westech pursued the appeal when the question of who shoulders the burden of establishing proper venue was unanswered. View "Westech Aerosol Corp. v. 3M Co." on Justia Law

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The defendants are Fair, an attorney, and limited liability companies Fair formed in 2007, which own Arizona apartment units. Plaintiffs are a California limited partnership and a nonattorney individual investor, who invested $150,000 and $100,000, respectively, in those LLCs. Plaintiffs asserted that defendants made fraudulent representations. The following years involved an attempt to negotiate a settlement; a lawsuit and amended complaints; two motions to stay the action and compel arbitration, pursuant to the arbitration provision contained in each LLC’s operating agreement; two appeals; a special motion to strike (anti-SLAPP motion); an award to plaintiffs of $12,609 in attorney fees and costs; refusal to comply with an alleged settlement; summary adjudications; and an additional award of $4,918.00 in attorney fees for the SLAPP proceedings. The court of appeal affirmed summary adjudication regarding the breach of the settlement agreement, rejecting an argument that there were triable issues of material fact regarding whether the parties entered into a binding settlement agreement. The court also affirmed the award of fees, rejecting an argument that the court should have awarded attorney fees for the entire dispute, consistent with Civil Code section 1717’s mutuality requirement and public policy or, at least, should have awarded fees as prevailing parties on defendants’ failed motions to compel arbitration and a related appeal. The court imposed monetary sanctions on defendants and their attorneys for bringing a frivolous appeal. View "J.B.B. Investment Partners v. Fair" on Justia Law

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The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission filed a formal complaint against 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan alleging 17 counts of judicial misconduct related to both her professional conduct and to her conduct during her divorce proceedings. After a hearing, the master concluded by a preponderance of the evidence that respondent had committed misconduct in office with respect to all but one count of the second amended complaint. In particular, the master found that respondent had: (1) failed to disclose when she presided over Michigan v. Kowalski (No. 08-17643-FC) that she was involved in a romantic relationship with the principal witness, and did not disqualify herself from the case on that basis; (2) failed to immediately disqualify herself from hearing her own divorce case and destroyed evidence even though she knew that her then-estranged husband had filed an ex parte motion to preserve evidence; (3) failed to disclose her relationship with attorney Shari Pollesch or to disqualify herself from hearing cases in which Pollesch or her firm served as counsel for a party; (4) made false statements under oath when deposed in her divorce case; (5) made false statements during certain cases over which she presided regarding her relationships with Furlong and Pollesch; (6) made false statements under oath to the commission; (7) verbally abused attorneys, litigants, witnesses, and employees; (8) directed employees to perform personal tasks for her during work hours; (9) directed employees to perform work for her judicial campaign during work hours; and (10) interrupted two depositions she attended during her divorce case. The Michigan Supreme Court found the commission’s findings of fact were supported by the record, and its conclusions of law and analysis of the appropriate sanctions was correct. Respondent was ordered removed from her current office and suspended from holding judicial office for six years; the commission was ordered to submit an itemized bill of costs, fees, and expenses incurred in prosecuting the complaint. View "In re Theresa Brennan, Judge" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals suspended Respondent, the Honorable Devy Patterson Russell, for six months without pay from her service as a judge of the district court and set conditions precedent to Respondent's reinstatement of her duties as a judge, holding that the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities' conclusion that Respondent committed sanctionable conduct was supported by clear and convincing evidence. In addition to other misconduct, Respondent failed to handle and process search warrant materials in a manner consistent with Maryland Rule 4-601 and internal courthouse procedures and failed to treat fellow judges and courthouse staff with dignity and respect. The Commission found that Respondent engaged in misconduct and recommended that she be suspended for six months without pay and that she take remedial measures to assist her when she returned to her duties. The Supreme Court agreed that Respondent committed sanctionable conduct and suspended her for six months without pay. View "In re Judge Russell" on Justia Law

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A standing order in the Third Chancery Court District (Mississippi) set motion days in advance and assigns the particular judge who will preside that day. H. R. Garner, a practitioner in the Third Chancery Court District, knew the directives of this standing order. Yet Garner still claimed that his opposing counsel was judge shopping by filing a contempt petition against Garner’s client and issuing a Rule 81(d) summons that noticed a hearing before a judge who had not been assigned the case. Although his opponent’s actions were authorized by Rule 1.06(C) and the District’s standing order, Garner filed what amounted to a hopeless motion to quash and for sanctions against him. In a twist, the Honorable Vicki Daniels, the judge actually assigned the contempt case, heard Garner’s motion to quash and request for sanctions, which Garner continued to pursue even though he was in front of his preferred judge. After reviewing the motion, Judge Daniels found what Garner’s opposing counsel had done was a “common practice” and was not improper. This prompted Garner’s opposing counsel to urge Judge Daniels to instead sanction Garner for filing a hopeless and frivolous motion, which she did: Garner and his client were sanctioned $1,000 under Rule 11 and the Litigation Accountability Act. Finding no abuse of discretion in Judge Daniels awarding sanctions against Garner, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the sanction. View "Garner v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against certain judges of the Fourth Judicial District Court (Louisiana) as well as a law clerk employed by that court. Essentially, plaintiffs alleged the law clerk “spoliated, concealed, removed, destroyed, shredded, withheld, and/or improperly ‘handled’ court documents” in earlier litigation involving plaintiffs, and that the judges either aided or concealed these actions. The judges and law clerk filed motions to strike certain allegations from plaintiff’s petition and also filed exceptions of no cause of action. The district court granted the motions to strike and granted the exceptions of no cause of action. On appeal, a divided en banc panel of the court of appeal reversed the motions to strike in part. The court also reversed the granting of the exception of no cause of action as to the law clerk, but affirmed the granting of the exception of no cause of action as to the judges, finding they were entitled to absolute judicial immunity. Considering the "highly unusual and specific facts" of this case, the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded the court of appeal erred in finding the judges were entitled to absolute judicial immunity. Accepting the facts as alleged in the petition as true for purposes of the exception of no cause of action, the Supreme Court found plaintiff’s allegations regarding the judges’ supervision and investigation of the law clerk’s activities arose in the context of the judges’ administrative functions, rather than in the course of their judicial or adjudicative capacities. Therefore, accepting on the well-pleaded allegations of plaintiff’s petition, the Supreme Court found absolute judicial immunity would not apply, and plaintiff was able to state a cause of action against the judges. View "Palowsky v. Campbell et al." on Justia Law