04 February 2009

How NOT to Deal With the Court of Appeals

I checked the Virginia Court of Appeals published opinions today. There was only one and it wasn't something you see often: the Court of Appeals directly finding someone in contempt of court.

What is required for a three judge panel to find an attorney in contempt?

1) File Notice of Appeal.
2) Move to withdraw as counsel per Anders.
3) Have court deny your motion to withdraw and order you to file an amended petition within 15 days.
4) Don't do it.
5) Have the court again order you to file an amended petition.
6) Don't do it.
7) Get removed by the court and ordered to provide a written response to a show cause within 15 days.
8) Don't do it.
9) Get called directly by the clerk of court's office to see why you haven't responded.
10) Fax a response that day admitting your failures were due to negligence.
11) Have the court order an in person appearance.
12) Don't appear.
13) Have the Chief Judge issue a show cause order and direct your appearance in court. Get served directly by the Virginia State Police.
14) Appear before the court and apologize. Offer no explanation other than your case load was too high.

Punishment? $1,000 fine, disbarred from practicing in the Court of Appeals (may ask for reinstatement after 3 years).


The punishment strikes me as pretty light. Back when I was doing court appointed work to pay the bills I knew plenty of people who would have gladly paid $1,000 not to have to represent their clients in appeals. The lawyer's probably been turned into the Bar as well and is waiting for that other shoe to drop.

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