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Nebraska High Court Suspends Lawyer for Ghosting Eighth Circuit

It's one thing when a lawyer 'fails to appear' in court, and it's another thing entirely when that lawyer fails to respond to the order to show cause (OSC) as to why the lawyer initially failed to appear. It's a gutsy move that usually won't end well.

Recently, an attorney from Nebraska, best known for being one of convicted murderer Anthony Garcia's attorneys, didn't just fail to appear for a state court hearing or some minor line on the docket either, he failed to appear at an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals oral argument, and then failed to respond to the OSC. After the attorney stood up the court, the Nebraska's Supreme Court issued a two year suspension for the attorney's failures to appear and respond.

Just Don't Stand Up the Court

If there's ever a lesson to learn from another attorney getting sanctioned for failing to appear, or for failing to respond to an order to show cause, it's that you just don't do it. If you can't make it to court, file something, email the clerk, call until you get through, and notify your client. If you have time, send an appearance attorney, or junior associate, as a sacrificial lamb to the slaughter.

And when the OSC comes in, don't ignore it, or put it off until the filing deadline. Respond, and respond early even. Provide documentation if you can. If it was calendared incorrectly, prove it with a printout of the errant entry. If you got in a car accident, take a picture and get a police report. If you went to the ER, show the court your admission and discharge paperwork (and redact the private stuff).

To Err Is Human, to Blow Deadlines Is Malpractice

As the Nebraska lawyer has undoubtedly learned as a result of the two year suspension, you don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, and you certainly don't blow court imposed deadlines that could result in sanctions or a suspension. And if you do, you might have to be ready to fall on your own sword, or engage in some creative legal gymnastics to avoid malpractice liability to the client.

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