A question for anyone who hasn't taken the MPRE yet. You know you are in serious trouble when a Court of Appeals:
- Orders you to pay a $5000 fine.
- Warns future clients about how terrible you are.
- Orders you to send a copy of your disciplinary action to your clients so they may consider suing you for malpractice.
- Scolds the lower court judge for letting you screw your case up so badly.
If your name is Michael J. Greco, all four are correct!
Fresh from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, check out this holy mother of bench-slaps:
"This litigation has gone off the rails because of multiple errors. The failure of Michael J. Greco, representing these three plaintiffs, to act promptly after Judge Castillo’s order, is only one problem. It is a fatal one, as we explain below, but Judge Castillo should not have presented Greco with the opportunity to bungle his clients’ cases away. [...]
"Greco’s calamitous handling of this litigation in the district court has been followed by a sloppy performance in this court. [...]
"Circuit Rule 3(c) requires counsel to file a docketing statement within a week of the appeal. Greco failed to file a statement until two weeks after we ordered him to show cause why his inaction should not lead to sanctions. We issued another order in June 2010 directing Greco to reply to a motion to consolidate the three appeals; he ignored our order until we issued a second order to show cause. Then the time for him to file a brief expired; eight days after the deadline, Greco finally submitted a brief, together with a request for a retroactive extension, even though Circuit Rule 26 requires motions for extra time to be filed at least a week before the due date. The belatedly tendered brief did not include a digital version, despite Circuit Rule 31(e). Personnel in the clerk’s office called Greco repeatedly; he did not return their calls. This led to the third order to show cause, which at last prodded Greco to submit a digital version—but the version he submitted did not comply with the rule, because it was missing some sections. Exasperated, we struck the brief but offered to reinstate it if Greco at last complied fully with CircuitRule 31(e). This order also directed Greco to show cause why he should not be fined or otherwise disciplined for ignoring the inquiries from the clerk’s office and failing to comply with Rule 31(e) despite repeated requests.
"Greco’s response to this last show-cause order, the fourth in a single appeal, is consistent with his performance throughout the litigation. It slights one of the two subjects we directed him to address and does not tell us why he failed to return calls from the clerk’s office and disregarded Rule 31(e) until the third show-cause order was issued. (He does say that “Greco has not ignored telephone calls from this court”, which essentially accuses the staff of the clerk’s office of lying about trying to reach him. We think that unlikely.) […]
"The events recounted in this opinion show that Greco is a menace to his clients and a scofflaw with respect to appellate procedure. The district court may wish to consider whether he should remain a member of its bar. Would-be clients should consider how Greco has treated Lee, Washington, and Moore. Greco has not asked for a hearing on the disciplinary order to show cause, and we now conclude that he has comported himself unprofessionally. We reprimand Greco for this unprofessional behavior and fine him $5,000, payable to the Clerk within 14 days. Greco must send Lee, Washington, and Moore copies of this opinion so that they may consider whether to file malpractice suits against him."
Bonus question for extra points:
Are you in more or less trouble if you a judge invites your clients to sue you and you do not have malpractice insurance?
"In annual registration, attorney reported that he/she does not have malpractice coverage."
More. The correct answer is you're in more trouble.