Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Applicability of 28 U.S.C. § 1927 to Pro Se Litigants — Caselaw Split

From McCormick v. Brzezinski, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36106 (E.D. Mich. April 13, 2010):

Defendant relies on Wages v. Internal Revenue Service, 915 F.2d 1230, 1235-36 (9th Cir. 1989) to support his argument that sanctions under section 1927 apply to pro se litigants. But, by its terms, section 1927 applies to only "attorney[s] or other person[s] admitted to conduct cases in any court of the United States." Other courts do not agree that section 1927 may be used to sanction pro se litigants. E.g. Sassower v. Field, 973 F.2d 75, 80 (2d Cir. 1992). Courts that apply section 1927 to pro se litigants typically take the stance that "pro se plaintiffs [are] 'person [s] admitted to conduct cases' because they had been granted permission to proceed pro se ." Id. The court agrees with the Second Circuit that "the word 'admitted' in this context suggests application to those who, like attorneys, gain approval to appear in a lawyerlike capacity." *** Moreover, in Ruben, the standard articulated by the Sixth Circuit relies on "'obligations owed by a member of the bar to the court.'" Ridder, 109 F.3d at 298 (quoting Ruben, 825 F.2d at 984). It is difficult to envision how a pro se litigant could owe an equivalent obligation to the court as that owed by a member of the bar. The court cannot agree that, in this circumstance, § 1927 should apply to Plaintiff.

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