Civil Procedure

Top Utah Court Nixes Attorney's Effort to Bring 3rd Party into Discipline Case


Utah’s top court has nixed an effort by a lawyer to bring a new third party, a client-related entity, into an attorney disciplinary case.

The impleader had been granted by a state district court, pursuant to the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure. But in a Tuesday ruling (PDF) on an interlocutory appeal over the issue of whether the impleader was proper, the Utah Supreme Court said the trial court had abused its discretion in granting the motion by attorney Donald D. Gilbert Jr.

While today’s attorney discipline cases are handed in state court and the rules of civil procedure generally apply, attorney discipline cases are historically different than general civil litigation matters and are not intended to adjudicate the rights of competing parties, the supreme court explained.

Saying that allowing collateral matters to be addressed in disciplinary cases is unnecessary and could be disruptive and discourage individuals from complaining, the court said such motions should never be granted. “Allowing impleader of collateral matters in attorney discipline proceedings is simply not consistent with the unique nature of our attorney discipline system,” the court wrote.

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.

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