[UPDATE : This week the Minnesota Supreme Court denied the petition for review of the Murrin v. Mosher appellate court decision, a case orginally discussed below on Minnesota Litigator back in March, 2010.]
Minnesota Litigator aspires to provide a one-stop source for news and developments in Minnesota state and federal courts, whether about particular cases, noteworthy events for bench & bar, or current issues likely to have an effect on the practice of law in Minnesota. Minnesota Litigator is not intended as a “lawyer gossip” website.
Some developments present a quandary because the subject matter hovers between a meaningful legal development and just a “juicy story.” (Take this case, linked here, for another example.)
An unpublished decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals this week floats in this zone of questionable usefulness but the scale tips in favor of a mention: the appeal of attorney John O. Murrin, III and his wife, DeVonna K. Murrin, from the district court’s sanctions and orders holding them in contempt.
Minnesota Court of Appeals retired Judge Huspeni (along with Judges Shumaker and Worke) affirmed in part and reversed in part Hennepin County District Court Judge Denise Reilly’s sanctions of Murrin and his wife (reversing as to sanctions of Ms. Murrin).
What makes this more in the nature of “gossip” than meaningful legal developments is that it would seem exceedingly rare that Minnesota litigators would get in the position that plaintiffs and their counsel got into in this case. To say there were “shots across the bow” warning of potential punishment for a frivolous suit seems an understatement. The repeatedly amended complaint was said by trial court Judge Denise Reilly to be “incomprehensible and rife with errors.” The Court of Appeals referred to the “egregious circumstances” of the case.
What makes the appellate decision actually worthy of note — something more than a legal wreck good only for rubber-necking — is the lengthy discussion in the 35-page decision of different sanctions available to parties and to the trial court, the procedural prerequisites for those sanctions, and the flexibility (or lack of flexibility) in the application of those prerequisites (opinion is here).