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Sanctions for persistence reversed

What part of no don’t you understand?

Chesterfield lawyer Richard C. Ferris II tried four times to get a circuit judge to set aside a default judgment entered against his client – the original pleading, a motion to reconsider, a second motion asking for reconsideration because the testimony of a witness at the first reconsideration hearing was improper, and a fourth motion for his client to be removed from default.

The fourth effort was a motion before a different judge than the one who had rejected the first three efforts, and the holder of the default judgment filed a motion for sanctions under Virginia Code § 8.01-271.1. Ferris had “no good faith basis for asking the Court to consider its arguments for a fourth time,” the holder contended.

The judge agreed and awarded $800 against Ferris.

The Supreme Court of Virginia reversed the sanction today in an unpublished order.

The fourth motion “was not unwarranted under existing law,” nor was there any evidence that it was made for an improper purpose, the court said.

In the absence of such evidence or a specific finding by the trial judge on those two points, there was no basis for the sanctions, the court said.

By Alan Cooper

One comment

  1. I saw this argued (by Steve Emmert, who did a great job),and the Court’s questioning was quite vigorous. This case raised important issues about the proper limits of vigorous representation, so I wish a published opinion had been released.

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