Civil Procedure

Missing Citations and Missed Deadlines Irk Federal Judge, Who Tosses Bias Suit

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A federal judge in Minnesota has dismissed a job bias suit by six plaintiffs against the Minneapolis Convention Center in an opinion that expresses frustration with their lawyer.

U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery said the plaintiffs had failed to offer statistical evidence of discrimination or other evidence showing the convention center policies had a discriminatory effect. The “handful of anecdotal examples” of unconstitutional discrimination offered by the plaintiffs on their Section 1983 claim did not demonstrate pervasive conduct, she said. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a story.

Montgomery named the Minneapolis lawyer for the plaintiffs, Christopher Walsh, in the third page of her opinion (PDF) and proceeded to list her beefs. According to Montgomery’s opinion, Walsh failed to comply with the state and local rules of civil procedure. He improperly served the original complaint, missed a pretrial scheduling conference, and responded to discovery requests months after the deadline had passed, she wrote.

Montgomery was also unhappy with Walsh’s memorandum (PDF) opposing summary judgment. According to her opinion, the document was “rife with incomplete sentences and blank citations to the record.” When citations were included, she said, some referred to irrelevant testimony or documents.

“Although the court has attempted to locate relevant portions of the record on its own, the task of sifting through several thousand pages of documents to support plaintiffs’ claims is not the court’s function,” Montgomery wrote. “The court will not advocate for plaintiffs by mustering the evidence and making arguments when their counsel has neglected to do so.”

Walsh told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he is a “brilliant attorney” with 20 years of experience in employment law. “Judges in America, they don’t want to have a trial in court anymore. They want a paper case,” he said.

He added that he strongly disagrees with Montgomery’s criticisms and he is planning an appeal.

Updated at 11 a.m. to correct incorrect reference to Montgomery.

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