Legal Memorandum: Attorney's Right to an Interlocutory Appeal

Issue: Does an attorney have the right to an interlocutory appeal over the imposition of sanctions, or must he or she wait until final judgment has been rendered?

Area of Law: Ethics & Professional Responsibility, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Interlocutory appeal; Imposition of sanctions
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 624 F.2d 1198; 72 F. Supp. 2d 518; 431 F. Supp. 2d 494
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2007

Courts throughout the federal Third Circuit have recognized that disqualification of an attorney is the most drastic sanction available to the court.  Isidor Paiewonsky Assoc., Inc. v. Sharp Props., Inc., Civ. No. 87-44 (D.V.I. Apr. 6, 1990).  In Isidor Paiewonsky, the district court clearly considered disqualification as a form of sanction.  “Commitment of the [disqualification sanction] to the district court’s discretion means that the court should disqualify an attorney only when it determines . . . that disqualification is an appropriate means of enforcing the applicable disciplinary rule.”  Id. (quoting United States v. Miller, 624 F.2d 1198, 1201 (3d Cir. 1980), and considering the propriety of “disqualification sanctions” for conflicts of interest in a small legal community such as the Virgin Islands). 

In Conley v. Chaffinch, the court stated its mission to “determine whether [an attorney’s] representation of Chaffinch in this matter violates Rule 1.9 and, if so, whether disqualification is an appropriate sanction for such a violation.”  431 F. Supp. 2d 494 (D. Del. 2006) (emphasis added).  A federal district court in New Jersey likewise recognized, in a class action case, that “where, for example, an attorney and an improperly solicited client collusively began such an action, knowing full well that the client would withdraw once additional named Plaintiffs joined the action, the Court would not consider the imposition of a more drastic sanction, such as disqualifying the attorney.”  Jerry Enters. of Gloucester County, Inc. v. Allied Beverage Group, L.L.C., 178 F.R.D. […]

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