Attorneys appearing before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals are on notice: both substance and style matter when filing in federal court.
In an opinion released this week, the Seventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s decision to dismiss a complaint with prejudice after an attorney failed three times to file “an intelligible complaint” for his client.
The attorney, Walter Maksym, appealed the district court’s dismissal, arguing that his second amended complaint complied with court rules, and, even if it did not, he should have been offered a third chance to replead. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.
The circuit found that the district court was well within its discretion to dismiss the case because each iteration of the complaint was incomprehensible and riddled with errors, making it impossible for the defendants to know what wrongs they were accused of committing.
Maksym's lawyering skills had not improved with appeal, either. The Seventh Circuit also observed that Maksym's appellate briefing was woefully deficient, and ordered Maksym to show cause why he should not be suspended from the bar or disciplined for conduct unbecoming a member of the bar.
Need examples of the types of errors that could get an attorney disbarred or suspended? Here are a few of Maksym's mistakes:
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals noted that lack of punctuation, near incomprehensibility, inability to follow directions, and grammatical errors, collectively, are egregious enough to warrant denial of the motion for leave to amend. The court is forwarding its ruling to an Illinois disciplinary board, which will determine if Maksym should be suspended from the bar.