In Uncategorized on 07/17/2018 at 16:11

Ex-Ch J Michael B. (“Iron Mike”) Thornton is not so direct with petitioners’ counsel in John R. Fletcher & Jo Ann Fletcher, Docket No. 13040-15, filed 7/17/18, but he’s sending a message all counsel should heed.

John’s and Jo’s counsel, whom I’ll call JD, apparently has health problems. His secretary failed to calendar a due date for a show-and-tell memo: what’s your facts and law, any expert witnesses, and status of prep. Then ex-Ch J Iron Mike has a phoneathon, wherein JD says his health may prevent trial when scheduled (the case had been continued five, count ‘em, five, times) and his health prevents him from preparing.

“Finally, [JD] stated that petitioners, who were divorced at the time of filing the petition, are ‘split’ on whether he may continue to represent them. He explained that he has advised petitioners regarding potential conflicts in representing them in this case but does not have their consent in writing. [JD] also provided a noncommital response as to whether either petitioner plans to seek spousal relief pursuant to section 6015.” Order, at p. 2 (Footnote omitted).

Ex-Ch J Iron Mike cites Rule 24 and the ABA Model Rules extensively, with a reminder to JD that the Court can toss counsel for unresolved conflicts.

And Rule 1.16(a)(2) requires withdrawal if an attorney is unable to represent clients because of physical or mental health issues.

But ultimately there is a further incentive to bail, and ex-Ch J Iron Mike is nowise loath to tell you all about it.

“…attention is called to section 6673(a)(2) which provides that whenever it appears to the Court that any attorney admitted to practice before the Tax Court has multiplied the proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously, the Tax Court may require that such attorney pay personally the excess in costs, expenses, and attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred because of such conduct.” Order, at p. 4.

So, JD, show cause in writing why you should not be tossed. And your clients are getting a free copy of this order.


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