Ethics News - U.S. Eleventh Circuit
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More than twenty-four years ago, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert S. Vance was tragically murdered by a bomb mailed to his house.

His murderer, Walter Leroy Moody, is currently sitting on Alabama's death row and is seeking habeas relief in federal courts. At the time of his original prosecution, the Eleventh Circuit found it necessary to recuse themselves, as well as the local district court judges, from the federal case. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist assigned the case to a Minnesota district court, and when the appeal reached the Eleventh Circuit, a panel of judges from the Fourth Circuit sat by designation.

The question is: twenty-four years later, do the same recusal rules apply?

Ethics note: When one prepares a legal document for a client, even pursuant to an unbundled services agreement, your state likely requires a "prepared by counsel" note and signature. Failure to do so can lead to allegations of fraud on the court and ghostwriting, along with disciplinary proceedings.

Unless that document you prepped only required you to be a scrivener.

John Hood Jr. was the not-client. He filed a pro se Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition, possibly in bad faith to stall a foreclosure. When his customers expressed worries about whether they could continue to do business with someone entering bankruptcy, he claimed ignorance and told the court that he'd never filed the petition. The court didn't buy it, calling it a case of "buyer's remorse," as Hood's signature was all over the forms, in close proximity to the word "bankruptcy," which was used many times throughout the standardized forms.

SCOTUS Denies Prosecutorial Misconduct Appeal

It's rare for a judge to get so mad that he fines the government after a trial, but U.S. District Judge Alan Gold was so outraged by two prosecutors' win-at-any-cost tactics that he awarded over $600,000 in attorney's fees and costs to a defendant acquitted of 141 counts of unlawful prescribing.

In 2011, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed the sanctions. This week, the government can breathe a sigh of relief: The Supreme Court has declined to consider the case, The Associated Press reports.

Let's go back to the beginning and discuss this kerfuffle.

Do You Support the Unauthorized Practice of Law Model Statute?

We’ve subscribed to the “fake it ‘til you make it” philosophy for many years. For most neophyte attorneys, it’s necessary to get a job.

When one of our law school classmates interviewed with his top-choice firm and learned that the firm was looking to hire a bankruptcy attorney, he faked it. “My focus is bankruptcy,” he told them before the start of third year, and he received an offer. (We took bankruptcy law and secured transactions together during the second semester of our third year. Neither of us knew what an automatic stay was.)