Monday, January 4, 2010

Judge Zloch Sanctions Attorney & Attorney Refuses To Stop When He's Behind

US District Judge William Zloch entered THIS order on December 30, 2009 sanctioning attorney Loring Spolter "nearly $110,000 in sanctions on a Florida lawyer and has suspended him from practice in the Southern District of Florida for 42 months over his efforts to persuade the judge to step down from overseeing three employment cases."  The quote is from THIS ABA Journal article titled "Federal Judge Sanctions ‘Obsessed’ Lawyer $110K Over Recusal Claims."  The ABA Journal also had an article about the case in August titled "Judge Accused of Religious Bias."  You can find an article by Bob Norman at the Daily Pulp titled "Judge Zloch Wallops Attorney Spolter" and at the South Florida Lawyers blog HERE and a older post HERE.

The sanction order is 68 pages and is worth reading.  The South Florida Lawyers blog pulled this quote out of the order as "the kicker":
However, the Court wishes to make absolutely clear that Mr. Spolter is not being punished for his criticism of the undersigned. Despite Magistrate Judge Rosenbaum’s thorough and articulate 92-page Report and Recommendation confirming the same, this Court will state the basis for sanctions once more——for those who continue to mislead the public by characterizing Mr. Spolter as some sort of First Amendment martyr. Mr. Spolter has the absolute right to criticize a judge, but what he does not have the right to do is to file pleadings in Federal court for an improper purpose and in bad faith. For this, and for engaging in behavior that no reasonably competent lawyer in like circumstances would have engaged in, and for these reasons alone, Mr. Spolter will be suspended from practice in this District for 42 months, he will be referred to the Florida bar, a reasonable fine will be imposed, and reasonable attorney’s fees assessed against him and his law firm, Loring N. Spolter, P.A.
However, I find it more interesting that the attorney has not stopped.  Bob Norman posted THIS document sent to him by the attorney which was apparently written in response to the sanctions order.  Bob's article, HERE, states:
What I find most interesting about Spolter's allegations is that he says Zloch has violated federal ethics rulings by refusing to fill out federal financial disclosure forms, making it impossible to know if he has conflicts of interest in the cases over which he presides. If that is true (interestingly, Zloch doesn't address the issue in his order), then Zloch appears to be guilty of something far worse than anything Spolter did in questioning and skewering him, and an investigation is in order.
The attorney claims that Judge Zloch signed three blank disclosure forms in recent years and that he filed "blank reports for years 2007 and 2008."  [pg. 5, paragraph 2 of the attorneys response].  However, the attorney is wrong.  Judge Zloch files his financial disclosure form every year.  Judge Zloch's 2008 disclosure can be found at THIS link, his 2007 at THIS link, his 2006 at THIS link, his 2005 at THIS link, and his 2003 at THIS link.  Neither the 2007 nor the 2008 form are blank as the attorney claimed in the response.  Some information is redacted but that is specifically permitted by Congress. "The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires all federal judges to report all gifts received, free travel, assets and loans for themselves and their immediate families each May 15, and for that information to be made public immediately. Last year, Congress amended the Act to give judges the right to withhold some information from the public for legitimate security reasons, as determined by the U.S. Marshals Service."  See HERE (emphasis added).

As stated in the response, Judge Zloch chaired the U.S. Judicial Conference's "financial disclosure committee, which includes 15 federal judges." See HERE.  Contrary to the attorneys statement, Judge Zloch did not unilaterally preclude the release of the disclosure forms.  Judge Zloch signed an order based upon security fears for many of the federal judges and the group seeking the release of the forms even acknowledged safety was an issue.  An article about the decision to temporarily block the release of the disclosure forms can be found HERE, another article can be found HERE.  

[Update: The response sent to Bob Norman was actually sent to Bob a few weeks prior to the sanction order being entered by Judge Zloch.  I apologize.]


Post a Comment