Thursday, December 06, 2007

In Re Gong & Kwong (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 6, 2007)

I don't care how bad your day at the office was today. Trust me: Mattaniah Eytan (a U. Chicago Law graduate practicing in Corte Madera) and Eric Schenk (a Boalt graduate who practices with Eytan) had it worse today. Much, much worse.

You don't see many opinions in which the Court of Appeal sanctions the lawyers for filing a frivolous appeal. Much less opinions in which the Court not only does so, but also goes out of its way to repeatedly identify the lawyers by name. As well as relentlessly slam them.

But that's precisely what Justice Stein does here.

It hurts. So, so badly. Especially since, yes, the arguments that these lawyers made in the appeal were both hypertechnical and clearly wrong. But I can see how someone might potentially "convince" themselves that these arguments were at least short of frivolous. It's not a case where the attorneys were just clearly, clearly, and totally clearly out of control. Rather, they made arguments that you might -- in some hypothetical world -- come to convince yourself were true. At least if you were getting paid to make them.

Not that Justice Stein is wrong to sanction the lawyers. Since I'm quite positive that the client -- who was sanctioned alongside the attorneys -- did in fact file the appeal purely to continue to harass and frustrate his former spouse. And the attorneys should have known better. Much better.

So be forewarned. And realize that you day as a lawyer today could have been much worse. Especially if you were in the shoes of the lawyers here. Who not only get spanked -- hard -- monetarily, but who also now have to see their names forever emblazoned in the pages of the California Appellate Reporter. In a way that you'd rather forget.

Plus, trust me, the press will get a hold of this one as well. Not to mention the State Bar. (For a subtle feel of how Justice Stein treats the lawyers, here's the penultimate sentence of the opinion: "Attorneys Mattaniah Eytan and Eric Schenk and the clerk of this court are each ordered to forward a copy of this opinion to the State Bar upon return of the remittitur." (emphasis in original))