Court properly imposes sanctions against attorney for knowingly violating order forbidding attorney from asking witness about specific issues. Scott C. Moody, Inc. v. Starr Surgical Company, (No. G043230 California Courts of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, May 23, 2011).

In this case, the trial court made a ruling at sidebar that counsel should not inquire into a articular area. Counsel proceeded to do exactly what the court ordered him no to do.

The trial court found counsel knowingly violated its order and imposed a $1,500.00 sanction under Code of Civil Procedure Section 177.5.  The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s order.

The appeals court found that under California Code of Civil Procedure 177.5 “a judicial officer
shall have the power to impose reasonable money sanctions not to exceed $1,500.00, notwithstanding any other provision of law, payable to the court, for any violation of a lawful court order by a person, done without good cause or substantial justification.  This power shall not apply to advocacy of counsel before the court.  For the purposes of the section, the term “person” includes a witness, a party, a party’s attorney or both.

The sanctioned attorney contended that his question was protected by the advocacy section in the above-referenced statute.  The appeals court found it “quite obvious” that the sanctioned attorney’s question was not “act or pleading, arguing, supporting or recommending a particular position or idea”, but a calculated decision to violate the court’s order.

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