11 January 2006

The Dangers Of Paraphrasing

John Karl, Jr. tried to paraphrase a lot of documentary and transcript evidence in motion practice before a federal magistrate. His paraphases were so loose that he basically lied to the judge. Judges do not like this kind of conduct. The magistrate in his case fined him $3,000 for violating his obligations under Rule 11 (which require lawyers to be truthful in their filings with the court) in a manner that wasted at least a week of the magistrate's time, and referred him to a board with the power to take away his license to practice in federal court (which will likely also result in an examination of his right to practice law at all).

In short, Karl is about as disgraced as a lawyer can get without actually stealing money from his clients. This would be a good time for him to consider taking up that golf career he's always dreamed of pursuing. The only really exceptional things about this case, however, are that the magistrate acted to punish the lawyer without a request from the other side, and that that magistrate had the backbone to punish this kind of conduct alone. Laweyers often mischaracterize evidence, but they act at their particularly peril when they do so at a time when they were perfectly capable of providing chapter and verse citations instead.

Clear proof that you are in the wrong can be as persuasive in causing a judge to impose a sanction as the actual gravity of the offense committed, particularly when you deny having done anything wrong after having been caught red handed.

(Hat Tip to How Appealing).

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