Category Archives: Opinion

Rule 11. Sanctions: Party or Attorney Misconduct

Sanction” is a penalty or punishment provided as a means of enforcing obedience to a law.  thelawdictionary.org

The Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, that all attorneys and parties have to abide by in litigation, include a specific rule that an attorney or a party may NOT file a motion that is frivolous or for the purpose of harassment or delay. M.R.C.P 11.

Frivolous” means a claim or defense made ‘without hope of success.’” See In re Spencer, 985 So. 2d 330, 338 (Miss. 2008). M.R.C.P 11

(b) Sanctions…For wilful violation of this rule an attorney may be subjected to appropriate disciplinary action. Similar action may be taken if scandalous or indecent matter is inserted. If any party files a motion or pleading which, in the opinion of the court, is frivolous or is filed for the purpose of harassment or delay, the court may order such a party, or his attorney, or both, to pay to the opposing party or parties the reasonable expenses incurred by such other parties and by their attorneys, including reasonable attorneys’ fees. [Amended effective March 13, 1991; amended effective January 16, 2003] M.R.C.P 11

Rule 11 provides two alternative grounds for the imposition of sanctions—the filing of a frivolous motion or pleading, and the filing of a motion or pleading for the purpose of harassment or delay. See Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Evans, 553 So. 2d 1117, 1120 (Miss. 1989). M.R.C.P 11

Although a finding of bad faith is necessary to sustain the imposition of sanctions based on purposeful harassment or delay, a finding of bad faith is not necessary to sustain the imposition of sanctions based upon frivolous pleadings or motions. M.R.C.P. 11.

A pleading is “frivolous” if its “insufficiency…is so manifest upon a bare inspection of the pleadings, that the court or judge is able to determine its character without argument or research.” In re Estate of Smith, 69 So. 3d 1, 6 (Miss. 2011). M.R.C.P 11

Sanctions against a party are improper in cases where the party relied strictly on advice of counsel and could not be expected to know whether the complaint was supported by law, where the party relied on advice of counsel in filing the pleading and played no significant role in prosecution of the action; or where the party was unaware and lacked responsibility for any bad faith harassment or delay. See Stevens v. Lake, 615 So. 2d 1177, 1184 (Miss. 1993). M.R.C.P 11

Let Rule 11 serve as a warning against filing things you know are untrue and/or that you cannot prove.

Matthew Thompson is a Chancery Court attorney in Mississippi and doesn’t often seek sanctions, but does when it’s warranted.

MS Bar Exam: 3 strikes and back to law school

The Mississippi Supreme Court just enacted a new rule, effective 2020, for hopeful attorneys-to-be.

Matthew Thompson was interviewed by WLBT while attending Scout Camp regarding the new MS Bar Exam Rule change. It’s hard to take a good picture of a video…

There is now a rule regarding the number of times you may take the bar exam unsuccessfully before remedial education is mandatory. Upon 3 unsuccessful attempts, a test-taker must attend 12 additional hours of law school before sitting for the bar exam again.

Previously there was no set limit. Two Supreme Court Justices disagreed with the rule change, but not because it was too tough. One justice was in favor of a 3-strikes your’re out and another supported 5-strikes and you’re out.

There have been mixed responses to this rule change and the above link features area attorney’s reactions, including your truly.

Matthew Thompson is a Family Law attorney in Mississippi, passed the bar exam on his first attempt and if all goes to plan will not have to take another bar exam – – ever…

How to set yourself apart…

Lawyer advertising can still have a stigma attached to it. It’s a throw back to the “good ‘ol days,” I guess.

However, we all advertise, or market, in some way. The bow tie is a marketing tool. Well, today my friend Graham Carner gave me his “card.” It’s a poker chip. It says his practice areas, website and phone number. It’s also the first time I’ve seen a chip/card.

Kudos to Graham. Perhaps the bow tie bottle openers are not as far-fetched as I’ve been told!

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and is typically the only lawyer under 70 in a bow tie.