Legal Ethics

5th Circuit Nixes Sanctions Imposed by Federal Judge re Litigant's Complaints About His Remarks

Saying that a federal judge was disqualified from issuing sanctions in a case that centered on his own alleged remarks showing a lack of impartiality, a federal appeals court has vacated a January order by U.S. District Judge John McBryde imposing penalties on a patent litigant and his lawyers.

The sanctions matter will now be heard by another federal judge in the Northern District of Texas and practice suspensions in the jurisdiction imposed by McBryde on at least two of the lawyers concerned will be lifted, reports the Star-Telegram.

Because the judge had personal knowledge of the facts at issue, he was required by 28 U.S.C. §455(b)(1) to disqualify himself from hearing the sanctions matter, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its opinion (PDF) on Monday.

“Under the particular and peculiar facts of this case, we conclude that the district judge was disqualified from presiding over the sanctions hearing and entering the January order.”

The opinion notes that the 5th Circuit did not reach the merits of the sanctions matter.

Earlier coverage: “Federal Judge Recommends Criminal Charges for Lawyers Who Questioned His Impartiality”

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