Legal Ethics

Del. Judge Fines Partner $500 for Sending Associate to Take Depo Without Pro Hac Vice Admission

Saying that some meaningful sanction was required for a clear-cut violation of settled law requiring pro hac vice admission before an out-of-state lawyer can take a deposition in a Delaware case, a state-court judge imposed a $500 fine on the partner who sent an unapproved associate to do so.

However, Superior Court Judge John A. Parkins Jr. declined in his March 15 letter ruling (PDF) to strike the deposition, saying that the associate, Joshua D. Sheffer of Michigan, would undoubtedly have been granted pro hac vice admission beforehand had he filed a timely application and that legitimate scheduling issues had made it difficult for the partner to handle the matter as planned.

“Finally, moving defendants urge the court to determine that Mr. Sheffer engaged in the unauthorized practice of law,” the opinion concludes. “That request is not properly addressed to this court. On the off chance counsel for any of the moving defendants wish to pursue this issue, they should file an appropriate complaint with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.”

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.

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