January 2, 2013 was the first business day of the new year and predictably found me in my favorite cramped, windowless courtroom. As I waited to be called, the first substantive hearing of the new year was in A-11-653755-C and concerned a motion to sanction plaintiff’s counsel for adjourning a deposition. The moving defendant had both California primary counsel and a local counsel. What happened next was probably not what they expected when they filed the motion:
Commissioner watched the videotape, and read through everything. Colloquy re: Motion to Revoke Pro Hac Vice (set 1/3/13), and a Protective Order should have been brought. Commissioner Bulla addressed counsel re: what occurred at the deposition was inexcusable, arrogant, obnoxious, the law was wrong, and it was done at a videotape deposition. Commissioner is very unhappy and disappointed about Defense counsel’s conduct as it obstructed the deposition, and may have ethical issues on obstruction of evidence. Arguments by counsel. The deposition was held on Nevada Day, and Commissioner Bulla was not available. If counsel engage in this conduct again, Commissioner will Recommend revoking the Pro Hac Vice. COMMISSIONER RECOMMENDED, motion is DENIED; Defense counsel (Ms. Smith / Mr. Muller) and Defts to pay $5,000 attorney fees to Mr. Nersesian for having to Oppose Defts’ Motion, and for inappropriate disruption at the deposition; fees due within 30 days after Court signs recommendation. Mr. Muller did not receive notice of anyone seeking sanctions. Commissioner’s Recommendation is sua sponte. Commissioner advised counsel Ms. Wright (California counsel) taunted Mr. Nersesian, which is improper conduct. Mr. Nersesian requested to re-notice Deft’s deposition, and ask background questions. COMMISSIONER RECOMMENDED, Request is GRANTED. Mr. Nersesian prepare recommendation; counsel approve form and content; submit report within ten (10) days of this hearing, otherwise, SANCTIONS MAY ISSUE for counsels’ failure to comply; status check SET. Counsel will work together and prepare a 2.35 Stipulation.
The hearing was far more awkward to endure than this minute order reflects. DC Bulla noted if this was federal court the sanction would likely have been substantially more. She also effectively turned defendant and his attorneys on each other by leaving it to them to determine who was going to pay the $5,000 sanction. Ouch.