ATLANTA -- The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a sanction order against an attorney who admitted she was wrong but then went back on her word.
Regardless of her argument that a district court abused its discretion by not offering adequate notice or sufficient factual basis, there was no due process in violation of a $5,000 sanction order against attorney Deanna L. Weidner, who represented her client defendant and counter-claimant SunSouth Bank, according to the Nov. 21 order.
In defending SunSouth against executors of the will of Joseph Flom for defrauding real estate investments, Weidner was the one who ended up in the wrong for how she handled the case before her. Her appeal stems from a 2016 sanction order in the amount of $5,000 for her violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16, which reserves the courts intrinsic control to manage its cases and consent bad faith conduct.
While Weidner was handling the case, she missed deadlines that created a persistent pattern of delay even after she was warned several times to be on time during the case’s pretrial and trial schedule.
“I have given you, Ms. Weidner, multiple opportunities to comply with my orders, and you haven’t done that,” the district court warned the attorney according to the Nov. 21 order, adding the attorney had no right to waltz in to court and expect forgiveness.
“And so it is – mea culpa, it is mine – it should be my sanction,” Weidner responded according to the Nov. 21 order.
However, the attorney took back her apology through her actions when she continued to abuse the additional extensions provided to submit defense exhibits and exhibit list to the plaintiffs. That is when the district court said it was “severely impacted” in its ability to assess objections and legal arguments by Weidner’s conduct, which often held up the jury. When asked again about the delays, Weinder blamed opposing counsel rather than take responsibility as she had before.
“She argues that the sanctions order deprived her of due process and an opportunity to be heard, and that the order constituted an abuse of discretion because it was not based upon sufficient findings and explanation,” according to the Nov. 21 order.
Citing United States v. Samaniego 2003, the 11th Circuit Court noted Rule 16 “permits a district court to issue ‘any just orders” if, among other things, a party fails to obey a scheduling or other pretrial order,’” according to the Nov. 21 order, adding, “The rule also requires a district court to order a party, its attorney, or both to pay the reasonable expenses incurred due to any noncompliance with Rule 16.”
Due to the attorney’s failure to comply after repeated warnings left he with her a bill of her own to pay for her defense of SunSouth bank.
“Weidner has not shown that the district court abused its discretion in imposing the $5,000 fine,” according to the Nov. 21 order, adding the sanctions order showed several months of unacceptable conduct in which Weidner did not comply with court orders and deadlines. “Based on the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion or deprive Weidner of due process in imposing a sanction of $5,000.”