Bad lawyer

Practice area:

It takes an awful lot for the Law Court to impose fees, and even then, it is typically only a minimal spanking (e.g. treble regular costs). So you can bet that when the Court awarded $10,000 in attorney’s fees on appeal, the conduct of the attorney at issue there was pretty … special.  Lincoln v. Burbank, 2016 ME 138.

Justice Alexander spells out all the bad behavior in the 31-page decision, and there is a lot of it, so I’m not going to repeat it here.  I did think the mention of binding the brief with “twine” was a particularly nice touch.  (More serious infractions included trying to represent people who didn’t want the lawyer to represent them, making factual assertions not in the record, filing out of time, etc., etc., etc.)

Searching for useful nuggets among the muck, there is one point of note, I think.  There were two sets of appellees, who filed two appellee briefs.  The sanctioned attorney-appellant (yes, he was both party and his own lawyer) filed two reply briefs, totaling 33 pages combined.  The rule limits a reply brief to 20 pages.  By listing this as one of the attorney’s many infractions, I think we can safely conclude that the Law Court thinks that only one reply brief is allowed per party, whether or not the appellant is responding to one appellee brief or multiple appellee briefs.  The rule itself on reply briefs (Maine Rule of Appellate Procedure 9(c)) doesn’t spell this out explicitly; it states that “[a]ny reply brief … must be strictly confined to replying to new matter raised in the brief of the appellee” (emphasis supplied), singular, making it ambiguous what happens if there are multiple appellee briefs.  Any ambiguity has now been clarified.  Only one reply brief a customer.