Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Non-Party Sanctioned for Unauthorized Practice of Law in Drafting Complaint for Pro Se Litigant for an Improper Purpose

From Barry v. Heimer, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 18858 (9th Cir. Aug. 23, 2010):

Rae Heimer, a non-party to the underlying action, appeals pro se from the district court's order sanctioning her under its inherent power to curb abusive litigation practices after dismissing the complaint she prepared for failure to state a claim. ***

The district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing nominal monetary sanctions on Heimer, an Arizona certified document preparer, under its inherent authority to curb abusive litigation practices and after finding that she improperly practiced law in drafting the complaint in this action for an improper purpose. See Ariz. Code of Jud. Admin. § 7-208(J)(5) (prohibiting document preparers from providing "legal advice or services to another" and "any kind of advice, opinion or recommendation to a consumer about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options or strategies."); Gomez v. Vernon, 255 F.3d 1118, 1134 (9th Cir. 2001) (affirming inherent-power sanctions based on a finding of bad faith, vexatiousness, wantonness, oppressiveness, or willful disobedience of a court order); Fink v. Gomez, 239 F.3d 989, 992 (9th Cir. 2001) (finding of bad faith for purposes of inherent-power sanctions includes a broad range of willful improper conduct, such as trying to gain a tactical advantage).

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