Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?”
Most judges—including bankruptcy judges—rely on lawyers at least in part to prepare orders and judgments. Lawyers drafting an order in a case involving a now-closed Miami-area fashion mall were recently sanctioned by a judge whose ire was provoked by the botched filing of the draft order.
In the normal course of litigation, lawyers bring motions, respond to motions, ask the court to be heard, argue, and then a court makes a decision. By the time a court renders a decision, the lawyers are experts on the issues of contention. Judges therefore often rely on the experts—the lawyers—to write a draft order. The lawyers submit the draft order to the judge, the judge modifies it as one sees fit, then signs and enters it.
That is roughly what occurred in a case being overseen in the Southern District of Florida’s Bankruptcy Court by Judge John K. Olson. Judge Olson asked lawyers from Duane Morris, LLP to prepare an order in a case. According to David Pollack, a lawyer at Miami’s Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, two paralegals logged into the bankruptcy court’s electronic filing system and uploaded the wrong draft of the order. The order bore the name of an attorney—Kevin Vance—who had neither drafted nor reviewed the order.
The language of the draft order itself was problematic, according to Judge Olson. The tone of the pleading, he noted, reflected “a self-satisfied smugness, full of self-congratulatory blather… [The law firm’s] conduct and attitude here is that it neither cares about being or being seen as a responsible corporate citizen in the Southern District of Florida.”
Olson issued an interim sanction barring lawyer Lida Rodriguez-Taseff from practicing in the bankruptcy court for 90 days. When the firm tried to blame its paralegal for the mistake, Judge Olson wrote that he was concerned that it did not discipline a “senior partner who directed that her underlings upload… an order that was neither agreed nor consistent with the court’s ruling,[,]” leading him to believe that “the firm’s oligarchs enjoy impunity.”
Judge Olson discharged sanctions he had previously imposed against Vance—whose credentials had been used without his knowledge to upload the order. Addressing Vance, Judge Olson declared that the Duane Morris firm owed him an apology, and that the law firm should “express its [apology] in tangible financial terms.”
According to the South Florida Business Journal, Olson has in recent years ordered the arrests of at least two individuals, ordered sanctions or held sanctions hearings regarding three attorneys, and has resisted at least two recusal requests.
Despite that, as Judge Olson noted in the Duane Morris matter, he does not enjoy playing the role of disciplinarian.
If you find yourself needing the services of an experienced Charlotte, North Carolina bankruptcy attorney, please call the skilled lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC find additional resources here. As professionals who are experienced at handling all kinds of bankruptcy matters, our attorneys will provide you with the best advice for your particular situation.
About the Author
Bryan Stone is a Partner with Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses his practice on all aspects of bankruptcy, including: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13, home loan modifications and landlord-tenant issues.
A native of Macon, Georgia, Mr. Stone attended the University of Georgia, where he earned a BBA in Banking and Finance, and Wake Forest University School of Law, where he obtained his law degree.
Following law school, Mr. Stone relocated to Charlotte, where he currently serves as Chair of “Bravo!” – a young professionals organization associated with Opera Carolina – and founded the University of Georgia Alumni Association of Charlotte.
In his spare time, Mr. Stone enjoys perfecting his barbeque skills for the annual “Q-City BBQ Championship” and playing softball in the Mecklenburg County Bar softball league.
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