Monday, January 4, 2016

Thou Shalt Not Taze Opposing Counsel

Crawford v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, No. B257415 (D2d6 Dec. 9, 2015)

I have previously mentioned how hard it is to get sanctions to stick. Here’s a case where they do. Of course, the facts of this case are completely insane.

Plaintiff is an attorney pro per who sued a bank for failing to prevent his elderly mom from getting swindled by some fraudster. Definitely something to be upset about. But Plaintiff is really upset. So when he noticed the depositions of some of the bank executives to be taken at his personal residence they were a little worried. They objected, attaching a petition for rehearing that plaintiff filed in an appeal in a different case against the bank. I’m not a fan of block quotes, but this one seems worth it:
The more simple truism or reality of life is that the victims of government abuse, bias or even unequal application of the law do not, actually, detonate a bomb in retaliation to those abuses, but, generally, go home and kick the dog to death for barking or beat the crap out of some random person for cutting them off in traffic or shoot up the workplace for getting passed over for a promotion or burn their children with scalding hot water for spilling . . . a glass of milk, or , in other words, translate their frustrations of helplessness into committing a heinous act in apparent disproportion to the harm that befell upon them. The ripple effect of injustices committed by government agents [ like the justices who ruled against him] herein, just roll downhill onto and into the lives of other truly innocent, unconnected individuals and makes this . . . just a crappier place to live.
And then they didn’t show. But instead of filing a discovery motion, Plaintiff sued each deponent for damages in small claims court.  

And then the bank tried to depose Plaintiff’s brother. Who walked out of his deposition the first time, right after being sworn. The court compelled him to come back and awarded sanctions. At the renewed deposition, Plaintiff threatened to pepper spray the bank’s lawyer. He then said if that didn’t work, he would taze him. Plaintiff then discharged the tazer at close range to show he was serious. Unsurprisingly, the bank’s lawyer suspended the depo.  

Bank moves for terminating sanctions. Plaintiff’s opposition brief referred to the judge as the bank’s pet dog and sarcastically suggested that an appropriate sanction would be a death sentence or $265 million in monetary penalties.

And while that was pending, Plaintiff moved to DQ the judge, setting out the kind of theory that Glen Beck would be embarrassed to put on his chalkboard. (The theory involves, inter alia, Robert E. Lee, Plaintiff’s brother, the judge’s daughter, and a mock trial competition in 1991.)  

The court struck the DQ and granted terminating sanctions. Unsurprisingly everything gets affirmed. As the Court of Appeal notes, “[i]f ever a case required a terminating sanction, this is it.”


1 comment:

  1. Absolutely disturbing case here! Always interesting when things get as dramatic as they do on TV.