U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Ethics Category

5th Circuit Ruling in Lawyer Speech Case Is a Teachable Moment

A recent Fifth Circuit ruling can be regarded as a teachable moment to attorneys who do not strictly adhere to local court rules governing attorney interactions with previous clients. In general, an attorney cannot make out of court statements that could reasonably be foreseen to have a material prejudicial effect on the administration of justice.

Although this sounds like a restraint on speech, lawyers would do well to heed this general rule lest they risk angering the ethics board.

Coffee Barista's Don't Interact With Customers Enough for Tip Pooling

The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded a decision by a Texas federal district court in a case that involved barista tips, Montano v. Montrose Restaurant Assoc.

The legal issue at bar was whether or not "coffeemen" (aka baristas) are lawfully entitled to a percentage customer tips under a restaurant's tip pooling arrangement. It turns out that it has little to with what you call them; it has more to do with the nature of their work.

20-Year Sentence Upheld for Ex-Litigator Who Bribed Judge

An ex-litigator Marc Rosenthal was sentenced to 20 years for his strong-arm tactics in settlements and for bribing a judge and witnesses.

The former attorney in question -- Marc Rosenthal -- appealed the decision against him and argued that government wiretaps of his conversation should have been excluded from the body of evidence. That argument fell on deaf ears and the Fifth Circuit upheld the conviction.

It seems that Texas has been getting hit with lawyer/judge bribery cases lately. It's a big state.

5th Cir Judge Accused of Bias Over Racial Comment

Judge Edith Jones is being accused of racial bias after a comment in her speech to the Federalist Society in February implied that Blacks and Hispanics are more involved in violent crime.

A complaint for judicial misconduct, filed by a broad coalition of civil rights organizations and legal ethics experts, alleged that Judge Jones made statements in her speech at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law that “violated basic rules of judicial ethics,” particularly the duty to remain impartial, reports MySanAntonio.com

Complaints of bias against judicial officers are not uncommon, but they are serious charges.

Evan Stone Gets 'EFF'-ed Up in Porn Copyright Trolling Sanctions

Copyright trolling seems to be a decent business model, until a court starts imposing sanctions. And woe is the attorney on the receiving end of those sanctions, according to a recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion.

Attorney Evan Stone represents Mick Haig, a company which produces pornographic films. Their copyright infringement lawsuit — which lead to attorney sanctions against Stone — is at the root of this appeal.

Attorney Sanctions: Firm Fined for Leaking Discovery Documents

You know how people occasionally spill secrets? Accidentally hit "Reply All" on a sensitive email? It can be embarrassing.

For lawyers, however, divulging information that should be kept quiet can lead to thousands of dollars in attorney sanctions.

Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld $29,667.71 in sanctions against a Florida tire litigation firm that accidentally distributed material that was subject to a protective order in a products liability case, the ABA Journal reports.