Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Sato v. Bank of America (Cal. Ct. App. - March 2, 2015)

Is this really all the Court of Appeal wants to do?

It's an unpublished opinion, so I wouldn't ordinarily mention it.  But it's a guy with my last name ("Martin"), so I feel somewhat proprietary about its reputation.

Andrew R. Martin files an appeal and submits briefs.  Here's what Justice Banke says about them:

"In this appeal, the Satos submitted opening and reply briefs totaling 105 pages that fail to provide a single page-specific citation. Instead, the briefs provide “citations” such as “see FAC” (referring to the first amended complaint, which contained 102 pages of allegations and over a hundred pages of exhibits) or make statements such as “[f]acts supporting Appellant’s claim[s] are from the FAC, the opposition to the subject demurrer, and the opposition to summary judgment”—asking this court to wade through nearly 300 pages without guidance. In short, the Satos’ briefing egregiously violates the Rules of Court and provides little help in analyzing the merits of the challenged judgment."

Okay, that's bad.  But ordinarily not really worthy of a huge spanking beyond being called out in an opinion.  (An unpublished one at that.)

But there's more.  Listen to this:

"At oral argument, counsel for the Satos, Andrew R. Martin—who signed the appellate briefs and presumably drafted them—attempted to excuse the rule violations by claiming this was his “first appellate case.” To say counsel was being less than candid with the court is an understatement—this was an outright mistruth. A quick search, by State Bar number, of the dockets of the First District Court of Appeal, alone, showed 17 matters initiated between April 2009 and October 2014, some completed some still active, in which Martin was at least one counsel of record. Thus, he has at least five-plus years of experience with appeals. Moreover, Martin has been on briefs submitted to this court in these other cases which not only suffer from similar defects, they predate the February 2014 opening brief in this case. For instance, the only record citation in the October 2013 opening brief in Jordon-Mendoza v. JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. (A138304, app. pending) is in a footnote on page three, and it is to the entire complaint; nary a page cite is given. Even a “first time” appellate lawyer is expected to read and comply with the Rules of Court. Martin’s transgressions, as an experienced appellate lawyer, are inexcusable."


So what does the Court of Appeal do to someone who has seemingly outried lied to the Court of Appeal.  Here's the sanction:

"Martin is hereby put on notice that the court will consider imposing sanctions should he file any appellate brief in the future in this court bereft of proper citations to the record."

Wow.  Hurt me.

That's what you get for an affirmative misrepresentation to the Court of Appeal nowadays?

Let me add some more facts for color.  All coming from Mr. Martin's apparent record with the State Bar:

What happened to Mr. Martin's bar license in 2011?  It was suspended for failure to pay child and/or family support.  What happened to Mr. Martin in 2013?  He was convicted of drunk driving.  What happened to Mr. Martin in 2014?  He was convicted of battery.  All of this was on top of a conviction in 2009 for driving with a revoked license.

All I know is what I read in the Bar's charging documents (and Mr. Martin's limited responses).  But even without this background, I'd have been inclined to have been harsher on Mr. Martin than Justice Banke was.

After discovering that background, I'd be even more inclined.

Not the proudest graduate of the Golden Gate School of Law.  Nor the poster child for the 623 attorneys in California with the last name "Martin".

P.S. - In researching the docket, I'm also a little unclear as to Mr. Martin's exact role in the case.  The Court of Appeal says that "Andrew R. Martin [] signed the appellate briefs and presumably drafted them."  Yet the publicly available case information lists both the opening brief (filed on January 15 2014) and the reply brief (filed on -- appropriately enough -- April Fool's Day of 2014) by "Attorney:  Vernon Lester Bradley."  Plus there are two subsequent entries in April of 2014 regarding the substitution of Mr. Martin for Mr. Bradley.  So did Mr. Martin really prepare and file the briefs?  Plus, if Mr. Bradley filed the briefs, could he really do that, since he was disciplined and ordered inactive by the Bar in 2013?  This case just gets weirder and weirder.  (Maybe the docket sheet lists the "Attorney" who "filed" the brief as just the attorney of record on the case even when an entirely different attorney files the briefs.  Who knows.  I'm just going by what I see.  And it looks like a mess.)