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Jorgenson v. Cty. of Volusia - 846 F.2d 1350 (11th Cir. 1988)

Rule:

Lawyers have a duty to refrain from affirmatively misleading the court as to the state of the law. They were not relieved of this duty by the possibility that opposing counsel might find and cite the controlling precedent.

Facts:

The appellants, attorneys Eric Latinsky and Fred Fendt, filed an application in the district court for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction on behalf of their clients. In support of their application, appellants filed a memorandum of law which challenged the validity of a Volusia County ordinance prohibiting nude or semi-nude entertainment in commercial establishments at which alcoholic beverages were offered for sale or consumption. The memorandum failed to discuss or cite two adverse and controlling precedent: (i) City of Daytona Beach v. Del Percio, and (ii) New York State Liquor Authority v. Bellanca. Consequently, the appellants were sanctioned by the district court pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 11. Appellants challenged the order of the district court, contending that the cases were not cited because they were not controlling.

Issue:

Did the district court err in imposing sanctions against the attorneys for their alleged failure to cite relevant, albeit not controlling, cases?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the imposition of Rule 11 sanctions by the district court was warranted. According to the Court, the appellants’ attempts to show that the cases were not controlling were simply post hoc efforts to avoid the imposition of sanctions. The Court noted that neither the original complaint nor memorandum of law filed by the appellants reflected or supported the arguments they raised on appeal. Hence, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.

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