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Appellate Sanctions

Appellate Sanctions

Lawyer “immortalized in the California Appellate Reports” for incivility

Last updated on May 9, 2024 by Tim Kowal
"Lawyers and judges of our generation,” says the Court of Appeal, “spend a great deal of time lamenting the loss of a golden age when lawyers treated each other with respect and courtesy.” But that golden age, judging from the opinion in Masimo Corp. v. The Vanderpool Law Firm, Inc., (D4d3 May 2, 2024 No....Read More >>

Sanctions, Successful Reconsideration, and Other Feb. 2024 Cases

Last updated on March 5, 2024 by Tim Kowal
We discuss how to avoid appellate sanctions, and an unusually successful motion for reconsideration: We also discuss a case on the Racial Justice Act, a rare case reversed for lack of substantial evidence, and a Public Records Act case. Appellate Specialist Jeff Lewis' biography, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter feed. Appellate Specialist Tim Kowal's biography, LinkedIn...Read More >>

Attorney who ignored appellate rules hit with $50k in sanctions

Last updated on February 8, 2024 by Tim Kowal
Failing to request a statement of decision. Misunderstanding what “substantial evidence” means. Preparing an incomplete appellate record. Yes, these mistakes will lose you your appeal. But they can also get you sanctioned. The appellant’s counsel in Mandir, Inc. v. Tiwari (D4d3 Mar. 27, 2023 No. G060437) (nonpub. opn.) got sanctioned nearly $50,000 for pursuing a...Read More >>

Cal’s initial disclosures, minimum discovery sanctions, & some ¯\(ツ)/¯ cases

Last updated on January 16, 2024 by Tim Kowal
California law now provides for initial discovery disclosures. Get a template handy for your upcoming cases. And watch out for the new minimum $1,000 sanction for discovery misconduct. And some recent cases:   Appellate Specialist Jeff Lewis' biography, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter feed. Appellate Specialist Tim Kowal's biography, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, and YouTube page....Read More >>

Race, gender, and Jewish conspiracies get attorney sanctioned $10,000

Last updated on November 22, 2023 by Tim Kowal
Getting sanctioned only $10,000 was a very lenient outcome for the appellant’s abhorrent—and inexplicable—behavior in Schwartzman v. S. Coast Tax Resolution, Inc. (D2d2 Nov. 17, 2023 No. B314770) [nonpub. opn.]. While ending in a tirade against the trial judge, the appellate justices, and the whole judicial system, the case started off pretty boring. Schwartzman filed...Read More >>

Plaintiff appealed but refused to comply with court orders, resulting in dismissal under disentitlement doctrine

Last updated on May 8, 2023 by Tim Kowal
The court in Robertson v. Larkspur Courts (D1d1 May 2, 2023) No. A166818 (nonpub. opn.) could have done worse to the recalcitrant plaintiff than just dismiss his appeal. In this landlord-tenant dispute over a mold issue, the parties stipulated to a judgment. The landlord did its part and paid Robertson $28,000 as agreed. But then...Read More >>

PMQ Declarations, Extortion & AI Judges

Last updated on February 7, 2023 by Tim Kowal
On this cases-and-tidbits episode, Jeff Lewis and I discuss: Ramirez v. Avon Products: There is no “corporate representative” or PMQ exception to hearsay and foundation objections. So summary judgment had to be reversed. Flickinger v. Finwall: Do you ever worry your prelitigation demand letters may be construed as extortion? I mean, Flatley v. Mauro shows...Read More >>

Attorney Sanctioned Over $24K for Frivolous SLAPP & Appeal

Last updated on October 5, 2022 by Tim Kowal
Earlier this year, the almost $25,000 in sanctions turned heads in Clarity Co. Consulting, LLC v. Gabriel (D2d6 Apr. 12, 2022) 77 Cal.App.5th 454. (We covered Clarity in episode 31 of the California Appellate Law Podcast.) But there are two important lessons about anti-SLAPP motions in the case, involving a garden-variety contract complaint for failing...Read More >>

Should Bad Arguments Be Sanctionable? Some Recent Takes

Last updated on August 3, 2022 by Tim Kowal
You can be sanctioned for lying to a court or from failing to disclose key authorities. That’s obvious. But two recent courts remind the bar that appellate sanctions may be imposed for making bad arguments. One of those cases imposed a whopping $107,000 in appellate sanctions. The other court did not issue sanctions, but signaled...Read More >>

“Stump Tim,” Do Sympathetic Parties Get Better Results? And Other Recent Cases

Last updated on May 3, 2022 by Tim Kowal
After Jeff quizzes Tim on a bit of appellate esoterica about the automatic 15-day default extension for appellate briefs, the co-hosts discuss whether appellate justices modulate their approaches to sympathetic cases. The conversation also covers recent cases involving: Defective notices of appeal. Can an action be dismissed pending appeal? A surprising recent case answered “No.”...Read More >>

'Gamesmanship' Throughout Litigation May Raise Risk of Sanctions on Appeal

Last updated on April 13, 2022 by Tim Kowal
CEB published my short article on McQueen v. Huang (D2d8 Mar. 4, 2022 no. B304645) 2022 WL 630606, a decision that imposed appellate sanctions on a litigant based on “gamesmanship” in the trial court. Not in the appellate court — the appellate sanctions were for trial court conduct. The article is available at CEB’s website...Read More >>

Beware Challenging Arbitration Award: $38K Frivolous Appeal Sanctions Because Mere Arbitrator Error Is Not Reversible

Last updated on March 17, 2022 by Tim Kowal
Some recent cases have suggested appellate courts might be more receptive to challenges to arbitration awards than in the past. But the Second District Court of Appeal swung hard in the other direction in *McQueen v. Huang* (D2d8 Mar. 4, 2022 no. B304645) 2022 WL 630606. The court sanctioned the appellant and his counsel over...Read More >>

Don’t Overlook the Civil Case Information Statement: Attorney Sanctioned for Incomplete CCIS

Last updated on January 6, 2022 by Tim Kowal
After you file the notice of appeal and the critical designation of record in the trial court, you have to file the Civil Case Information Statement in the Court of Appeal. The appellant’s attorney was sanctioned for filing an incomplete CCIS in Kuenzinger v. Doctors Med. Ctr. Modesto (D5, Dec. 22, 2021 no. F082272) 2021...Read More >>

Two Appeals Dismissed Where Entity Appellants Owed Taxes or Not in Good Legal Standing

Last updated on June 2, 2021 by Tim Kowal
Two recent appeals were dismissed because the entity defendants were not in good legal standing. One was crosswise with the taxing authorities. Another never formally organized. As a result, both their appeals were dismissed. (But the nonexistent entity gets the judgment against it vacated as part of the dismissal. How's that for failing upward?) Appellants...Read More >>

No Safe Spaces: Arbitrator Not Disqualified Due to Claimed Political Bias; Appellant Sanctioned $56,000 for Frivolous Appeal

Last updated on December 18, 2020 by Tim Kowal
Appellant and attorney sanctioned a blistering $56,000 for their frivolous appeal. (Malek Media Group LLC v. AXGC Corp. (D2d3 Dec. 16, 2020) No. B299743.) After a business dispute was decided against him, appellant decided to trawl the internet for dirt on the arbitrator, who, he discovered, was a founding member of GLAAD and maintained a Twitter...Read More >>

Appeal Held Not Frivolous, But Lawyer Argued It Frivolously

Last updated on November 10, 2020 by Tim Kowal
The 10th Circuit sanctioned the attorney of a homeowner tenaciously trying to avoid foreclosure on her home. The court noted that "an appeal may be frivolous as filed or as argued." An appeal frivolous as-filed is one where the decision is "plainly correct" so there is no genuine appealable issue. But an appeal may be...Read More >>

Attorney Sanctioned $22,000 for Frivolous Motion, Narrowly Avoids More Sanctions for Frivolous Appeal

Last updated on November 5, 2020 by Tim Kowal
In fairness, I have seen much worse arguments than this. On behalf of his AirBnB client, attorney files suit against AirBnB employees in McCluskey v. Henry (D1d3 Nov. 2, 2020) no. A158851, but the case is stayed and sent to arbitration at AAA. Through a clerical error, AAA doesn't acknowledge receipt of defendants' arbitration fees, and administratively...Read More >>

"Counsel on the firing line in an actual trial must be prepared for surprises, including requests for amendments of pleading. They cannot ask that a judgment afterwards obtained be set aside merely because their equilibrium was slightly disturbed by an unexpected motion."

Posz v. Burchell (1962) 209 Cal.App.2d 324, 334

"A judge is a law student who grades his own papers."

— H.L. Mencken

"God made the angels to show Him splendor, … Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind."

— Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons

"Upon putting laws into writing, they became even harder to change than before, and a hundred legal fictions rose to reconcile them with reality."

— Will Durant

Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly.


"It may be that the court is thought to be excessively legalistic. I should be sorry to think that it is anything else."

— Hon. Sir Owen Dixon, Chief Justice of Australia

"Moot points have to be settled somehow, once they get thrust upon us. If an assertion cannot be proved, then it must be settled some other way, and nearly all of these ways are unfair to somebody."

—T.H. White, The Once and Future King

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."

— Plato (427-347 B.C.)

"So far as the beginnings of law had theories, the first theory of liability was in terms of a duty to buy off the vengeance of him to whom an injury had been done whether by oneself or by something in one's power. The idea is put strikingly in the Anglo-Saxon legal proverb, 'Buy spear from side or bear it,' that is, buy off the feud or fight it out."

— Roscoe Pound, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

"At common law, barratry was 'the offense of frequently exciting and stirring up suits and quarrels' (4 Blackstone, Commentaries 134) and was punished as a misdemeanor."

Rubin v. Green (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1187

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”

— James Madison, Federalist 62

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