Monday, July 18, 2005

Bear Creek v. Edwards (Cal. Ct. App. - July 13, 2005)

Yikes! This is not the opinion that I would have wanted published if I were Lucila Enriquez, the attorney for the appellant (and the trial attorney below) in this case. As you'll soon see, about the only thing she can be grateful for is that the Court of Appeal repeatedly misspells her name, calling her "Lucia" rather than her actual first name (Lucila). But that's small solace.

Not only does Ms. Enriquez lose the appeal, but the 49-page opinion by Justice Ward is repeatedly mean to her. Here are some of the words that Jusice Ward uses in describing Ms. Enriquez's arguments: "duplicative, misplaced, disingenuous (four separate times!), catagorically reject[ed], a red herring, obscure, irrelevant, indefensible, nonsense, [and] frivolous." And here's a characteristic sentence by Justice Ward to describe Ms. Enriquez's position (at 40): "This contention, like most of those raised, is completely unmeritorious."

Plus, the opinion also contains a not-so-flattering discussion of her conduct below, including what it calls the "highly unusual circumstances" surrounding her repeated failure to show up during various trial proceedings -- and mentioning the resulting sanctions against her -- as well as her personal participation in various events surrounding the underlying case, many of which appear to have affirmatively harmed her client. And it also contains this gem, which is indicative of pages and pages of slams on Ms. Enriquez: "[T]he court was within its rights to discredit any claims by attorney Enriquez with respect to her medical condition . . . . Attorney Enriquez's delaying tactics had succeeded once in gaining a 60-day delay in the middle of trial. The court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to grant a continuance, based solely on the representations of an officer of the court who had previously manipulted and abused both the proceedings and the court's indulgence."


But wait! There's more! Let's not forget the reference to "the obduracy of the defendant parties and their attorney, the constant quibbling, delaying, obfuscatory, frivolous, unreasonable, disingenuous, repetitive, and even bizarre conduct of the defense". Or "the penchant of Edwards and his counsel for overlitigation, for refusal to comply with court directives, for unreasonableness, [and] for repetitive meritless motions and other tactics."

This is as about as crushing a slam on an attorney as I've ever seen issued by the California Court of Appeal. It is a back-breaker.