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Legal Ethics

Lawyer Accuses Judge of ‘Half-Baked Findings’ in Scathing Response to Sanctions Threat

Posted Apr 27, 2011 7:23 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A South Florida bankruptcy lawyer has filed a scathing response to a judge’s threat to sanction him, accusing the judge of drawing conclusions “from the ether” and making “half-baked findings.”

Hollywood, Fla., lawyer Kevin Gleason asserts in his response that Judge John Olson “misremembered” the facts of a court hearing, ignored relevant statutes and ruled against his claim for an exemption with “mere adverbial analysis.”

“It is sad when a man of your intellectual ability cannot get it right when your own record does not support your half-baked findings,” Gleason wrote.

The South Florida Lawyers blog labels Gleason's response a “doozy” and suggests the lawyer might have been better off using the document as a first draft. Legal Blog Watch agrees, saying a first draft allows a lawyer to vent anger before shredding the document and tossing it in the circular file.

In an order to show cause, Olson wrote that Gleason’s client should have turned over commissions from a real estate sale to the plan administrator, but instead asserted a claim for exemption without a proper legal basis. Olson said a creditor’s request for sanctions against Gleason could not be granted because the 21-day safe-harbor period had not run, but the court could impose sanctions on its own initiative.

Gleason’s contention that his client is entitled to keep the commission “is frivolous, absurd, and is not warranted by existing law,” Olson wrote. Gleason had already admitted the money was owed to the plan administrator, but filed a claim for exemption anyway, the judge said.

Gleason didn’t see it that way. “Your conclusion that [my client's] attempt to exempt his commissions as the head of a household is not supported by law is belied by the language of the actual statute,” Gleason wrote. “Your conduct in this case was been without citation to any authority for the propositions that: your jurisdiction is never ending and without geographic bounds; your unconditional releases are meaningless; and pronouncements of the United States Supreme Court are mere suggestions.”

My client “asserted his statutory right to protect his commissions from this court’s unjustified money grab,” Gleason wrote. “Second, the claim was not frivolous. What is frivolous is your grabbing of funds without any statutory basis for so doing.”

Gleason responded to a request for comment in an e-mail to the ABA Journal. "The document requires neither explanation nor speculation," he said.

Updated at 8:38 a.m. to include a comment from Gleason.

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