A recurring problem in legal representation and advocacy relates to the “meritoriousness” of a case. Lawyers are supposed to advocate cases that have a legal or factual basis or at least pose a legal proposition that tests a settled legal principle. The tribunal has the rightful expectation that its docket will be filled with cases that have defensible arguments. Too often, the legal and justice system are laden with cases that are at best inventive, and at worst, fraudulent.
Lawyers drive the movement of unmeritorious cases. Lawyers are, by nature, the movers of any case. From the outset, they evaluate the facts of the claim and reach preliminary conclusions on their legitimacy. Lawyers who care little about the connection between facts and law or whether or not a case has merit are often subject to the disciplinary process.
In this Application Assignment, you examine a Supreme Court of Florida case: The Florida Bar v. McAliley. The Florida Bar charged the respondent, McAliley, with abuse of the judicial process by filing continuous, baseless, and vexatious litigation in violation of rules regulating the Florida Bar. In this assignment, you examine how the court deals with the ethical claim that a lawyer filed or pursued a case that lacked merit or that said case was frivolous. How does the court distinguish frivolous versus meritorious cases?
To prepare for this assignment:
Focus on the ethical content relating to lawyers, especially as it relates to bar associations at the national, state, and local levels. Also, read the attorney’s oath of admission on page 113 and the bar admission standards described throughout.
Review The Florida Bar v. McAliley case, and consider the facts leading up to the case. Consider whether or not there are any special facts or emotional circumstances that impact this case.
Case: The Florida Bar v. McAliley, 797 So. 2d 589 (2001). Retrieved from
Review the article, “ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct,” and examine the provisions from the “Model Rules of Professional Conduct” that apply to The Florida Bar v. McAliley case.
Review the “Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism” Web page from the American Bar Association website and study the links to the Codes at the national and state level, various opinion resources, ethical instructions, and guidelines in preparation to assess The Florida Bar v. McAliley case.
Lawyer ethics and professionalism. Retrieved October 28, 2009, from http://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility.htm
Consider if The Florida Bar v. McAliley case is meritorious or not.
Think about whether the defense posed by the public defender or private attorney in the case is proper and professional zealous representation or unmeritorious advocacy.
The assignment (1–2 pages):
Explain the degree to which The Florida Bar v. McAliley case is meritorious, if at all. Be specific.
Explain whether the defense posed by the public defender or private attorney in the case is proper and professional zealous representation or unmeritorious advocacy and why. Be specific, and use examples to support your explanation.