Brown v. Clayton et al
ORDER regarding attorney conduct. Signed by Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons on 4/9/13.(Esposito, A.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
OFFICER IVAN J. CLAYTON1
CIV. NO. 3:11CV714 (JCH)
This action, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, is before
the Court on defendant’s oral request to impose sanctions and to
strike pleadings. In lieu of filing a Rule 11 Motion,
defendant’s counsel sought a conference with the undersigned,
which was held on February 21, 2013, in an effort to mediate a
resolution short of Rule 11 litigation. This order is an effort
by the Court to resolve the situation created by plaintiff’s
counsel and does not represent a finding for purposes of Fed. R.
Civ. P. 11.
Defendant asks the Court to impose significant sanctions
due to the allegations directed against defendant’s counsel.
support, defendant provided a letter dated February 19, 2013,
citing to pleadings, and attaching letters and emails from
A Stipulation of Dismissal was filed on February 5, 2013,
dismissing the claims against the other defendants. [Doc. #78].
plaintiff’s counsel containing accusations about defense
counsel’s conduct during this litigation.
Currently Filed Documents
Defendant directs the Court to pleadings filed on CM-ECF,
and publically available, containing “irrelevant and false
accusations about defense counsel’s conduct during this
litigation.” [Def. Let. 2/19/13 at 3].
The Court has reviewed
plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions [Doc. ##34, 36, 39]; Memorandum
in Support of the Motion to Quash [doc. #71-1]; Motion to Compel
[doc. #75]; and Motion for Extension of Time [doc. #80]. The
pleadings contain language directed toward defendant’s counsel
that is abusive, inappropriate, unwarranted and unprofessional.
The record shows that there has been an unfortunate breakdown of
the professional relationship normally expected between
“In an adversarial proceeding, clients are litigants
and though ill feeling may exist between clients, such ill
feeling should not influence a lawyer in his conduct, attitude,
and demeanor towards opposing lawyers.”
Thomas v. Tenneco
Packaging Co. Inc., 293 F.3d 1306, 1323
(11th Cir. 2002)
tactics only serve to interfere with the “orderly administration
of justice and have no proper place in our legal system.”
While stress and frustration often accompanies the
litigation process, the language employed by plaintiff’s
Counsel, Attorney Sally Roberts, cannot be justified. Nor can
the unsubstantiated attacks on the personal integrity, ethics
and character of defense counsel exhibited in the challenged
It is never appropriate to include accusations and personal
attacks against opposing counsel in a pleading. The Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure provide a mechanism to address issues
arising out of an attorney’s conduct. The proper course for
perceived discovery abuses would have been for plaintiff to seek
a protective order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c),
and/or request a conference with the Court to mediate discovery
disputes and provide case management.
See Doc. #55 at 6.
Motions filed with the Court are a vehicle for the articulation
of specific facts and law that support a party’s position
relevant to a case. Such filings, however, are not meant to be a
vehicle through which attorneys, clients and witnesses emote,
let off steam, or otherwise sling mud at an adversary.
At the February 21 conference, the parties expressed a
desire to resolve this issue short of Rule 11 litigation through
mediation. Indeed, Attorney Roberts offered an apology to the
Court and defense counsel and assured that Court that she will
not include accusations against defendant’s counsel in future
pleadings. Accordingly, Court is left to fashion a remedy in a
situation where pleadings are not sealed, have been public for
some time and continue to remain public.
During the conference, Attorney Roberts agreed to provide
an apology, retracting all of the statements contained in the
pleadings that reference defendant’s counsel.
In the letter of
apology, Attorney Roberts shall acknowledge the
inappropriateness of her personal attacks and express remorse
for injecting such attacks into this case.
Attorney Roberts will provide her letter of apology to
defendant’s counsel within seven days with a copy to the Court.
Defense counsel retains the right to file a Rule 11 Motion.
Since Attorney Roberts’ conduct needlessly multiplied the
litigation, defendants may file a Motion for Costs.
Pursuant to the Court’s inherent power, the Clerk of the Court
is ordered to strike Doc. ##34, 71, 75 and 80 in their entirety
as “immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous.”
Fed. R. Civ. P.
Filing of Future Pleadings
Plaintiff’s counsel is cautioned that she will be
sanctioned for any future abuse. Sanctions may include, but will
not necessarily be limited to, including the striking of any
submission containing abusive language. This case is almost
trial ready. Plaintiff complied with Judge Hall’s Pretrial Order
on March 6, 2013. [Doc. #95-101].
Based on this record, all future pleadings submitted by
plaintiff in this matter will be reviewed by the Court and their
filing will be permitted only after review.
It is HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff file a Motion for
Permission to File and append a SEALED copy of any proposed
pleading for the Court’s review prior to filing any future
After review, the Court will direct the Clerk of the
Court to docket the pleading, if appropriate.
The Court has approached this matter with regret that
counsel did not seek the Court’s intervention at an earlier
stage. Courts are understandably reluctant to impose sanctions
and participate in Rule 11 litigation. However, if this matter
cannot be settled through mediation, the Court will enter a
scheduling order and hear the parties on Rule 11 sanctions. An
attorney’s reputation should not be lightly or carelessly
besmirched and an attorney subjected to such a public attack
must be able to seek the Court’s protection when efforts to
resolve a dispute are unsuccessful.
This is not a recommended ruling.
This is a discovery
ruling and order which is reviewable pursuant to the "clearly
erroneous" statutory standard of review.
28 U.S.C. ' 636
(b)(1)(A); Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a), 6(e) and 72(a); and Rule 2 of
the Local Rules for United States Magistrate Judges.
it is an order of the Court unless reversed or modified by the
district judge upon motion timely made.
SO ORDERED at Bridgeport this 8th day of April 2013.
HOLLY B. FITZSIMMONS
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?