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Leave It to Lawyers to Think of Beating the Clock Like This ...

Every once in a while, we lawyers hear about conduct by our colleagues that's so deceptive that it makes us embarrassed to be part of the profession. David Lat offers an example of the type of activity that I'm describing in this post about a law firm that discovered a way to give itself a couple of extra days to make its filings.

According to the judge's order posted at Lat's site (we'll get to that in a minute), the law firm of Snell and Wilmer figured out that it could take advantage of a Utah federal court's after-hours filing system by stamping the first page of a filing on the due date and returning it to the office. The firm then attached the stamped cover sheet to a pleading completed a day or two later and slipped it back into the after-hours box. Apparently, the firm assumed that court staff would assume that the pleading had been overlooked when the box was previously emptied.

Unfortunately for the firm, court staff discovered the ruse, not once but twice. Eventually, the judge issued the order posted at Lat's site that notified the parties that "such deceitful conduct would not be tolerated" and that if observed again, the court would strike the pleadings.
Lat offers the judge's order as an example of attorneys getting bench-slapped, but frankly, I don't think the order goes far enough. The conduct here isn't merely negligent -- it's an intentional action that placed the lawyers' opponents at a severe disadvantage. Unless there's some other explanation, these lawyers should have received a sanction or even a referral to and reprimand from the bar. 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on March 5, 2007 at 07:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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