In case you didn't see it, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' hometown team, the New Orleans Saints, won the NFC South title on Monday night with a 45-16 win over the Eleventh Circuit's Atlanta Falcons. Quarterback Drew Brees added to the excitement of the win, setting a new, NFL, single-season passing record.
And while Brees' record-breaking pass is the most talked-about moment of the game, running back Pierre Thomas' first-quarter antics have also created buzz. After scoring the Saints' first touchdown of the game, Thomas pulled a bow out of his uniform, stuck it on the ball, and gave it to a fan, resulting in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
For Southern lawyers, known for their courtroom panache, Thomas' antics were one of the highlights of the game, even if he violated unsportsmanlike conduct rules. But lawyers, unlike football players, risk far more than field position when sanctioned for attorney misconduct.
If an attorney's state law license is withdrawn or suspended, the attorney may also be suspended or disbarred for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals bar under Fifth Circuit Local Rule 46.2.
What kind of conduct should you avoid? State professional conduct rules in the Fifth Circuit's three states - Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, prohibit the following:
In addition to the basic professional conduct rules, appellate attorneys must comply with local circuit rules, including frivolous appeal rules. (Federal appellate courts have been known to impose sanctions on attorneys who file frivolous appeals.)
Our tip for Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals practitioners? Don't be tempted to live out your NFL fantasies with excessive displays of flare in the courtroom or in your briefs. Dial down the drama, and avoid attorney misconduct sanctions.