Monday, September 29, 2014

MBE Fast Fact: Rule 11

Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is implicated whenever an attorney (or unrepresented person) presents to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper. The rule provides that whenever such a paper is presented, the presenter certifies that to the best of his/her knowledge the paper has not been presented for any improper purpose (for example, harassment, delay, etc.) In addition, it is certified that that the legal contents therein are warranted by existing law or contain an argument for the modification of existing law. It is further certified that the allegations and factual contentions therein have evidentiary support and that denials of any factual contentions are warranted by the evidence or are reasonably based on a lack of information or belief.

It's important to understand the consequences of violating the rule. Violations of Rule 11 can lead to sanctions, and the court has discretion to impose sanctions against a party who presents a paper in violation of the above requirements. The matter may be raised by the court on its own initiative or the opposing party may serve a motion for sanctions with the court. Sanctions may consist either of nonmonetary directives or monetary penalties, and the monetary penalties may include payment of expenses or attorney's fees incurred as a result of violating the rule.

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