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The proper purpose of a non-monetary penalty should be to educate, especially in a case like this, where the attorney fails to grasp the issue even after it has been explained to him by the Court.
In a Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court remanded this improperly removed case to the Circuit Court. The state court action had been commenced by a complaint filed by the Attorney General in aid of his enforcement of a state statute. The complaint raised no federal question, but sought relief only under Maryland law. The defendant's attorney filed a notice of removal in this Court. The problem with all this is that the case was not removable, under a fundamental precept of federal removal jurisdiction. This concept is firmly rooted in case law. Therefore, the Court readily concludes that the removal notice was not "well-grounded in law." Thus, it was signed and filed in violation of Fed. R. Civ. P. 11. The Court directed the defendant's attorney to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed upon him for having filed a notice of removal in a case that was not removable under any conceivable notion of federal removal jurisdiction. Under the circumstances, because only an indisputable question of law is involved, no oral hearing is necessary the Due Process Clause.
Was the sanction imposed by the court to the defendant’s attorney proper?
Yes. The defendant attorney, in his submission showing cause, missed its point entirely, confusing a filing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 with the removal of an ongoing state case.
The court, in its discretion, rejects the notion of forcing attendance at a CLE course, largely because it is questionable whether the specific gap in counsel's knowledge of federal law would be adequately filled by such a course. Instead, the Court, has determined that a more laser-like approach is warranted, consisting of remedial education in federal removal law, to be gained and reinforced through the mnemonic device of copying appropriate materials out in longhand. Counsel will, thus, not have to miss office or court time, to attend classes. Instead, he may accomplish his remedial education during what would otherwise be his leisure time. Specifically, defendant's counsel, Timothy F. Umbreit, Esq., was directed to copy out, legibly, in his own handwriting, and within 30 days of the date hereof, the text of Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil (1985), together with the text of that section's update. He will also turn in the resulting product to the Clerk of this Court, with a certification that it was made solely by himself and in his own handwriting.