Trials & Litigation

Federal Judge Roars re 'the Lowest Moment in Attorney Representation the Court Has Ever Witnessed'


Known for his merciless sanctions, as a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal puts it, a federal judge in Nevada didn’t hold back about a lawyer he deemed lacking in a bankruptcy hearing last year.

Attorney Jeremy Mondejar’s representation of clients at the Oct. 12, 2011 hearing was “the lowest moment in attorney representation the court has ever witnessed,” said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Bruce Markell in a recent public reprimand of Mondejar; his boss, attorney Barry Levinson; and Levinson’s law firm. The judge ordered Levinson to reimburse the clients for legal fees.

Levinson said he let Mondejar go the same day, because his associate had embarrassed him. But he also said the judge was “a little harsh” on Mondejar, who now works at another law firm and declined to comment, writes columnist Jane Ann Morrison.

While Levinson doesn’t say his law firm has handled matters perfectly in Markell’s court, he suggests it would be more helpful for the judge to try to assist attorneys in improving their representation rather than blistering them with rebukes.

The judge contended in his April 9 opinion (PDF) that Mondejar arrived late for a half-day hearing, then appeared to know nothing about it:

“He turned on his laptop computer, balanced it in one hand, and began scanning its screen apparently to determine what the hearing was about. He was unaware of what had been filed in the case and ignorant of the contents of the order to show cause at issue. He floundered, showing an almost complete lack of preparation. It was painful for all in the courtroom, from the client who saw his money being wasted, to the court staff.”

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Around the Blawgosphere: Lawyer Runs Down Stolen Phone; Bankruptcy Judge Notes ‘Epic Fail’”

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