“Sanctions,” the word that causes every lawyer to tremble. Lawyers representing Pres. Trump filed some 60, what can only be described as “frivolous” lawsuits. In Michigan, the City of Detroit has asked that Lin Wood and other lawyers be sanctioned pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.Pro. Rule 11. Rule 11 requires that every pleading be signed in good faith. The City of Detroit claims that Lin Wood, Sidney Powell and others did not file that lawsuit in good faith. Detroit also asks that the lawyers be referred to the state bars of their respective states for investigation.
Sidney Poweell has responded that she did not sign the pleading. She appended “/s/ Sidney Powell” to the pleading. ….. Okay. Every trial lawyer in the country knows that the use of “/s/” in front of a typed name represents an electronic signature. Ms. Powell is deliberately attempting to hide behind a technicality. She is trying to argue, apparently with unintended humor, that Rule 11 does not apply to electronic signatures. But, of course, the Electronic Signature Act of 2000 specifically makes electronic signatures quite binding.
Ms. Powell also argues that senior partners in the firm, who typically appear as a simple typed name above the signature block for the lawyer actually working the case, have not “appeared” in the lawsuit. She is saying that lawyers who simply appeared via typewritten name cannot be sanctioned. …. Okay, that’s another one. Those lawyers who appear in the signature block simply as a typed name are assumed to be guiding or overseeing the more junior lawyer who did sign the pleading. It is disingenuous and perhaps dangerous to argue otherwise. It is problematic whether such a very technical argument will fly with the judge. But, it is very certain that such a technical argument will annoy the judge a great deal. Lawyers who oversee a pleading best not claim they knew nothing about the pleading. Senior lawyers should not hide behind a technicality. That violates Rule No. 1 in litigation: do not sacrifice your credibility without a very, very good reason.
See ABA Bar Journal report for more information.