NEWS FLASH! Warning from Judge Bennett: Uspecified “form” objections will invite sanctions.Aug 2nd, 2014 | By critellilaw | Category: Featured Page
UPDATE: Friday Aug 8, 2014. The Webinar has just received 1 hour CLE credit in Iowa: Activity No.: 153909 and in Nebraska: Activity No. 96129.
DOWNLOAD IA Ethics Opinion 13-02 from this LINK
WATCH the Pro Hac Video from this LINK
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— NICK and FRANK
” …lawyers should consider themselves warned: Unspecified “form” objections are improper and will invite sanctions if lawyers choose to use them in the future.” So orders Judge Mark Bennett in Security National Bank of Sioux City v Abbott Laboratories. No. C11-4017-MWD July 28, 2014. You may download it from this LINK. This is a MUST READ DECISION and is long overdue.
In that case experienced Counsel made incessant speaking-type form objections as a tactic to coach the witness and interfere with the flow of discovery. We’ve all witnessed the behavior; usually by untrained lawyers. But when it comes from a senior counsel in a large national law firm it is unforgivable. Here’s how Judge Bennett described the behavior: ” In defending depositions related to this case, Counsel proliferated hundreds of unnecessary objections and interruptions during the examiner’s questioning. Most of these objections completely lacked merit and often ended up influencing how the witnesses responded to questions. In particular, Counsel engaged in three broad categories of improper conduct. First, Counsel interposed an astounding number of “form” objections, many of which stated no recognized basis for objection. Second, Counsel repeatedly objected and interjected in ways that coached the witness to give a particular answer or to unnecessarily quibble with the examiner. Finally, Counsel excessively interrupted the depositions that Counsel defended, frustrating and delaying the fair examination of witnesses. I will address each category of conduct in turn.”
The sanction – even more amazing. The judge ordered the offending counsel to product a video. Yes, you read it correctly. Here the exact order:
“Counsel must write and produce a training video in which Counsel, or another partner in Counsel’s firm, appears and explains the holding and rationale of this opinion, and provides specific steps lawyers must take to comply with its rationale in future depositions in any federal and state court. The video must specifically address the impropriety of unspecified “form” objections, witness coaching, and excessive interruptions. The lawyer appearing in the video may mention the few jurisdictions that actually require only unspecified “form” objections and may suggest that such objections are proper in only those jurisdictions. The lawyer in the video must state that the video is being produced and distributed pursuant to a federal court’s sanction order regarding a partner in the firm, but the lawyer need not state the name of the partner, the case the sanctions arose under, or the court issuing this order.”
Footnote 8 will be of interest to you. Judge Bennett says:
“Iowa trial lawyers have a long and storied tradition and culture of civility that is first taught at the state’s two law schools, the University of Iowa College of Law and the Drake University Law School. I know this because I have taught and lectured at both of these outstanding law schools that produce the bulk of Iowa lawyers. Civility is then taken very seriously, nourished and lead by the Iowa Supreme Court, and continually reinforced by the Iowa State Bar Association, the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers, and all of the other legal organizations in the state, as well as senior members of the bar, law firm partners from large to small firms, and solo practitioners across the state. There is great pride in being an Iowa lawyer, and describing someone as an Iowa lawyer almost always connotes that lawyer’s high commitment to civility and professionalism. Of course, there are stinkers in the Iowa bar, but they are few and far between.”
Professionalism is the hallmark of the Iowa lawyer. As learned profession we recognize that we are not competitors but colleagues who help each other.
Interesting, wish you could watch the video? Well we can’t provide the offending lawyer’s video BUT in the spirit of Iowa professionalism we can provide a free 1 hour WEBINAR discussing each of the items Judge Bennett wanted covered. CLICK HERE to register for the Wednesday, August 13th noon (12:00 PM) Webinar. We are applying for 1 hour CLE.