Appellate Practice

7th Circuit's Posner Rebukes 'Quarrelsome Lawyers' for Tendentious Bickering,' Threatens Sanctions


It isn’t just Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who has harshly criticized lawyers in rulings this week.

Judge Richard Posner apparently has reached his limit too, telling corporate lawyers in a patent case to avoid further “tendentious bickering” or expect sanctions in a Tuesday ruling on motions in limine (PDF) provided by Above the Law.

While he notes that the plaintiffs are the worst offenders, both sides are guilty of what Posner terms “childish abuse,” warning counsel that it is not to continue.

“No more or there will be sanctions,” he writes. “In more than 29 years as a judge, I have never encountered such bickering, quarrelsome lawyers. You are wasting my time and your clients’ money.”

The motions in limine also were incorrectly drafted, Posner notes, with what were supposed to be separated motions and supporting statements mixed together.

Easterbrook fined a lawyer in an unrelated case $5,000 this week and called him, among other things, “a menace to his clients and a scofflaw with respect to appellate procedure.”

Earlier this month, the 7th Circuit summarily dismissed the false claims case of another lawyer who exceeded its 14,000-word briefing limit, although it did so not as a direct sanction but due to the apparent lack of merit in his “rambling” appeal.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Blistering 7th Circuit Opinion Fines Lawyer $5K, Orders Him to Alert Clients to Possible Malpractice”

ABAJournal.com: “7th Circuit Zaps Lawyer for Exceeding 14K Word Limit in Brief, Summarily OKs Lower Court Decision”

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