Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Sanctions — Single Tardy Appearance by Counsel at Hearing Does Not Warrant Inherent Power Sanction

United States v. Olvera-Yanez, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 3437 (9th Cir. Feb. 21, 2012):

Attorney Nikoo Berenji appeals the district court's imposition of sanctions for appearing late to a hearing. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we vacate the imposition of sanctions and remand.

Berenji contends the district abused its discretion when it imposed a $100 sanction under its inherent powers without a finding of bad faith. We agree that Berenji's single tardy appearance does not justify a monetary sanction in this case. See Mendez v. County of San Bernardino, 540 F.3d 1109, 1130-33 (9th Cir. 2008) (vacating sanction order imposed under district court's inherent powers where the court did not make a bad faith finding before imposing sanctions and the record did not support such a finding); Zambrano v. City of Tustin, 885 F.2d 1473, 1480 (9th Cir. 1989) ("[C]onduct amounting to recklessness, gross negligence, repeated--although unintentional--flouting of court rules, or willful misconduct" is required before monetary sanctions can be imposed under local rules) (footnotes omitted).

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