NELA’s amicus brief joins with the plaintiffs and their counsel in urging the Sixth Circuit to adopt the majority view of Circuits around the country that court-initiated sanctions under section 1927 requires a finding of bad faith by the trial court. No such finding was made in this case. Different panels of the Sixth Circuit have applied varying standards concerning section 1927 sanctions. Nevertheless, even using the lowest standard applied by certain panels of the Sixth Circuit (which requires only “something more than negligence or incompetence”), plaintiffs counsel’s conduct would not have warranted sanctions. Counsel, instead, undertook the natural and proper steps of complying with a change in the court’s orders. NELA’s amicus also argues that imposition of this sanction has an undue chilling effect on civil rights advocacy, violates due process, and raises a concern about the unusually high incidence of controversial sanctions imposed by this particular trial court judge.
Brief writers: Richard R. Renner; Bennet D. Zurofsky