Usually, an attorney must be licensed in a given state before he or she can practice law in the courts of that state. There is an exception to this general rule, however. In some situations, an attorney may be admitted pro hac vice for one particular case. Taken literary, “pro hac vice” means “for this turn.” As a practical matter, it simply means that a lawyer may practice law on a limited basis in a state in which he or she is not licensed. This typically happens when the out-of-state attorney purports to have some type of expertise in the area of law pertaining to the case.
The rules of pro hac vice vary from state to state, but one thing is constant. The out-of-state attorney must seek and obtain the permission of the court in which he or she wishes to practice. Even then, the attorney’s admission is conditional, with the court having the authority to revoke the privilege at a later time.
What Caused the Dispute Between the Attorneys
In the case of Ryan v. Astra Tech, Inc., the trial court had admitted an out-of-state attorney pro hac vice to represent the plaintiff in the underlying lawsuit. During the deposition of the plaintiff, a dispute arose between the out-of-state attorney and the attorney who represented the defendant. According to the defense attorney, when the plaintiff had difficult answering a certain question about her response to an interrogatory, the out-of-state lawyer wrote something on a notepad in the view of the plaintiff and then flipped it over. The attorneys argued about the propriety of the out-of-state attorney’s actions, and the deposition was suspended. After a hearing, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts revoked the out-of-state attorney’s pro hac vice status and imposed discovery sanctions against him.
The attorney appealed, challenging the trial court’s revocation of his pro hac vice admission on the grounds that the district court failed to follow the procedure for attorney discipline in District of Massachusetts Local Rule 83.6, that his due process rights were violated, and that there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s factual findings.
What the Court Decided on Appeal
The appeal court affirmed the district court’s decision to revoke the out-of-state attorney’s pro hac vice admission and to impose monetary sanctions. According to the court, this was a simple but important case. After notice and an opportunity to be heard, the district court found ample and very convincing evidence that the out-of-state attorney falsified evidence and lied point blank with premeditation. The district court was thus well within the law in its decision to revoke the out-of-state lawyer’s pro hac vice admission. According to the court, “Anyone who thinks it important that lawyers should not lie to judges would be surprised if the court had done otherwise.”
If You Are Looking for a Massachusetts Lawyer Whom You Can Trust
Attorneys are held to a high standard when it comes to their candor to the courts. If you are looking for a competent, capable attorney in the Cape Cod area to assist you with your car accident, medical malpractice, or product liability case, give the Law Firm of John C. Manoog, III, a call at (888) 262-6664. With offices in Hyannis and Plymouth, we have been representing clients in the courts of Massachusetts for many years. We welcome the opportunity to evaluate your case. The initial consultation is free.
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