Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Huschke v. Slater (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 2, 2008)

Oh, sure. Make me look bad, California Court of Appeal. Immediately after I take umbrage at nothing being published today by either you or the Ninth Circuit, go ahead and publish five different opinions. Geeze.

At least I don't look as bad as San Francisco attorney Andrew Dimitriou, though. Who's the principal subject of one of the published opinions today. Something that hardly made his day. Or week. Or probably year.

The problem is this: Dimitriou was the counsel for appellant in a tiny little appeal involving discovery sanctions of $6,382. Dimitriou filed the appeal and briefed the case, and since the case wasn't worth briefing, respondents elected not to respond. All of which is fine.

So the Court of Appeal asks if anyone wants oral argument, Dimitriou says he does, so it gets set for oral argument on September 16, 2008. Again, all okay.

The day before the oral argument, however, an associate for Dimitriou faxes the Court of Appeal a letter that says the parties settled the case back in 2007.

Oops. What about Rule 8.244, which requires the appellant to promptly let the court know if the case has settled? Or the reminder of that rule in the oral argument request the Court sent out?

The Court of Appeal wants answers to these questions as well. To which the parties respond in a manner that's worth reading about at length, but to summarize, the Court of Appeal is seriously -- seriously (and, IMHO, rightly) -- dubious of Dimitriou's veracity, and even if everything that Dimitriou says is correct, what he did was still a violation of the rules.

So spank him we shall. To the tune of $6,000 in sanctions, payable to the Court of Appeal. Plus reporting the thing to the State Bar. And, to boot, a published opinion.

Why? Because you violated the rules. And, on a personal level, because we don't want ourselves and/or our clerks to write complete opinions (ready-to-go at oral argument) for cases that settled long ago.

So more lessons for the day: When the case settles, tell the Court of Appeal. Like, immediately.

Or suffer the fate of Andrew Dimitriou.

P.S. - Check out the (ironic) last paragraph of his three-paragraph self-description on his web site. Which begins with the sentence "He has lectured extensively on legal ethics . . . ." My sense is that those many invitations to lecture on legal ethics may dry up a little bit at this point.