April 21, 2019

Archives for December 29, 2015

Top Ten Programs and Homestudies for Construction, Environmental, Water, and Oil and Gas Law

As 2015 winds to a close, we continue our review of the Top Ten Programs and Homestudies in various practice areas. In case you missed it, we previously reviewed the Top Ten Programs and Homestudies in ethics, family law, trust and estate law, real estate law, litigation, business law, employment law, and criminal law. Today, we have consolidated several related practice areas, because there is often a great deal of overlap in the programs for these practice areas. And now, here are the Top Ten Programs and Homestudies for Construction, Environmental, Water, and Oil and Gas Law.

10. Mechanics’ Liens: Advanced Issues. Mechanics’ liens are the stuff of nightmares for homeowners. This program tackles some of the tough issues with mechanics’ liens, including oil and gas liens, priority following a public trustee sale, and the impact of a bankruptcy filing on a mechanics’ lien. Three general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

9. Oil and Gas Law Nuts and Bolts. This Oil and Gas Law Nuts and Bolts program is for attorneys who are new to the oil and gas arena or want to expand their practice. It is also for attorneys who have been practicing in the area and want to refresh their knowledge, get up-to-date on recent developments, or simply want essential information on oil and gas law. Eight general credits, including one ethics credit; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

8. Agricultural, Environmental, and Water Law Symposium 2014: The Great Drought and What It Means To You. From agriculture to tourism, real estate, and oil and gas development, the lack of water is affecting many segments of our economy and communities across the state. This program brings together some of the top public officials, academics, and attorneys to address the great western drought and how you can help your clients respond to it. Four general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

7. Oil and Gas Law Advanced Topics 2015. Power up your oil and gas practice and knowledge as you learn about the legal framework for oil and gas in the Rocky Mountain West region, emerging title issues, ethics, master limited partnerships, and federal access issues. Eight general credits, including one ethics credit; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

6. Colorado’s River Basins: A Comprehensive UpdateThis program provides insights on basins in 6 of Colorado’s 7 water divisions. Topics discussed include water administration related to marijuana cultivation, alternative transfer methods, surface water irrigation improvement rules implementation, water rights versus property rights in storm water management, new/proposed groundwater rules, and more. Seven general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

5. Oil and Gas Development in Colorado: Balancing Energy and the Environment. Striking the balance: energy production and use is desirable, but not without challenges and risks. Environmental regulation is effective and positive, but not without costs. Learn how hot button energy and environmental interests are being balanced by state and local governments, the energy industry, environmental and technical professionals, and practitioners. Eight general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

4. Mechanics’ Liens: Getting Paid for Accomplished Work. When a homeowner does not pay for work that has been done on his or her property, the construction workers can assert a lien on the subject property. Whether you represent the homeowner or the construction worker, there is much to learn about this area of the law! Although mechanics’ liens are effective tools, there are numerous pitfalls in meeting the deadlines for recording a mechanics’ lien, for accurately drafting the lien, and for correctly serving the lien. Learn about the nuances of mechanics’ liens in this program. Four general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

3. Water, Oil, and Gas: Nuts and Bolts of Oil and Gas Leases, Surface Use Agreements, and Water Rights for Non-Oil and Gas Attorneys. This program focuses on critical water, oil and gas issues in Colorado. This program provides those who don’t practice in the area with essential information regarding oil and leases, surface use agreements, government’s role in authorizing locations for oil and gas development; the ins and outs of nontributary and produced nontributary ground water and nontributary ground water as a landowner asset. Six general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

2. Residential Construction Defect Law Update 2014. The program will highlight recent liability, damages and insurance developments as discussed in the 2013 Fourth Edition of Residential Construction Law in Colorado (CLE) authored by Ronald M. Sandgrund, Scott F. Sullan and Leslie A. Tuft. A PDF copy of the book is included as part of the course materials, along with a summary list of significant, recent cases. Three general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

1. Basics of Mechanics’ Liens and Verified Claims. The ins and outs of mechanics’ liens are addressed in this program, including who can claim a lien, what may be liened, commercial and residential property, what pleadings are needed to assert a lien, lien waivers, and more. A PDF copy of the CLE book, Colorado Liens and Claims Handbook, is included as part of the course materials. Five general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

Comment Period Open for Proposed Amendments to ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has developed proposed amendments to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The Standing Committee has proposed the addition of a subsection (g) to Model Rule 8.4 to address discrimination in the practice of law, and a revision to the comments to explain the purpose of new subsection (g):

Rule 8.4: Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

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(g) in conduct related to the practice of law, harass or knowingly discriminate against persons on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status.

 

Comment [3] Paragraph (g) applies to conduct related to a lawyer’s practice of law, including the operation and management of a law firm or law practice. It does not apply to conduct unrelated to the practice of law or conduct protected by the First Amendment. Harassment or discrimination that violates paragraph (g) undermines confidence in the legal profession and our legal system. Paragraph (g) does not prohibit lawyers from referring to any particular status or group when such references are material and relevant to factual or legal issues or arguments in a representation. Although lawyers should be mindful of their professional obligations under Rule 6.1 to provide legal services to those unable to pay, as well as the obligations attendant to accepting a court appointment under Rule 6.2, a lawyer is usually not required to represent any specific person or entity. Paragraph (g) does not alter the circumstances stated in Rule 1.16 under which a lawyer is required or permitted to withdraw from or decline to accept a representation. A lawyer who, in the course of representing a client, knowingly manifests by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, violates paragraph (d) when such actions are prejudicial to the administration of justice. Legitimate advocacy respecting the foregoing factors does not violate paragraph (d). A trial judge’s finding that peremptory challenges were exercised on a discriminatory basis does not alone establish a violation of this rule.

The Standing Committee also issued a memorandum explaining the origin of the amendments, available here. The memorandum explains that although the comments to the Model Rules have addressed discrimination in the practice of law for many years, the Committee thought it important to add the prohibition to the black letter portion of the Model Rules in order to authoritatively prohibit discrimination. As the ABA Young Lawyers Division eloquently explained, “There is a need for a cultural shift in understanding the inherent integrity of people regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, or disability, to be captured in the rules of professional conduct. This is true because the Model Rules are supposed to ensure the integrity of the legal profession.”

The Standing Committee invites comments on the draft proposal, both in writing and at its public hearing from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 7, 2016, at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, 3rd Floor, South Tower, Balboa & Mission Hills Meeting Rooms, San Diego, CA. Persons wishing to speak should register by sending an email to abamodelruleamend@americanbar.org by January 29, 2016. Speakers should be prepared to speak for four to five minutes and then take questions from the Committee, and there may not be time to accommodate all interested speakers. Comments may be submitted in writing as well to the above email address by March 11, 2016. Comments will be made publicly available.

For more information about the proposed Model Rule change, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Sanctions Against Attorney Affirmed Where He Negligently Disregarded Discovery Obligations

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Sun River Energy, Inc. v. Nelson on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.

Attorneys James E. Pennington and Stephen E. Csajaghy were sanctioned for their refusal to disclose insurance coverage during securities litigation involving Sun River. Pennington was in-house counsel for Sun River and Csajaghy was retained to represent the company in the underlying litigation. During the underlying litigation, a magistrate judge set a discovery deadline of April 6, 2011, by which time Sun River was obligated to disclose any insurance coverage. However, no disclosure was made until nearly 18 months later, after repeated requests from opposing counsel, and by the time the policy was disclosed the coverage period had expired. Opposing counsel moved for sanctions against Sun River under Rule 37(b)(2)(A), requesting that Sun River’s claims against defendants be dismissed and entering default judgment for defendants on their counterclaims.

The magistrate judge held an evidentiary hearing, and ultimately recommended that default judgment be entered against Sun River but not approving dismissal. The magistrate judge noted that there was not intentional misrepresentation by Sun River’s attorneys, but neither attorney actually looked at the policy to see if it provided coverage, instead relying on their mistaken beliefs that the policy would not be relevant. Sun River objected to the magistrate judge’s recommendations, and a district judge addressed the contentions at a pretrial hearing. By that time, Csajaghy had withdrawn from the representation and Pennington appeared as counsel of record. The district court decided counsel were culpable for the misrepresentation and should be held personally responsible. The district court ultimately imposed the sanction of opposing counsel’s attorney fees against Pennington and Csajaghy in the amount of $20,435.

Pennington and Csajaghy moved for reconsideration, arguing Rule 37(c) does not allow imposition of sanctions on counsel, counsel acted with substantial justification, any sanction should have been imposed on Sun River, and due process precluded imposition of a sanction against Csajaghy, who had withdrawn before the sanctions were imposed. In response, defendants argued the sanction was not only justified under Rule 37 but under Rule 26(g)(3) and the district court’s inherent power as well, also noting that counsel’s deliberate indifference demonstrated a lack of substantial justification, sanctioning counsel was appropriate, and that both attorneys had been afforded substantial due process in the matter. The district court issued a thorough written decision, granting in part and denying in part the motion for reconsideration. The district court noted that Rule 37(b)(2)(C) authorizes a monetary sanction for failure to obey a discovery order and expressly allowed the attorney advising the party to be sanctioned, finding that since Csajaghy was Sun River’s attorney of record at the time of the discovery violation the sanction against him was appropriate. As to Pennington, since he was not the attorney of record at the time of the discovery violation, the district court held he was not subject to Rule 37(b)(2)(C) sanctions, but became responsible for timely updating discovery responses under Rule 26 when he became attorney of record, and therefore the sanction was justified under Rule 37(c)(1)(A). The attorneys appealed.

The Tenth Circuit began its analysis by examining the sanction against attorney Pennington. The Tenth Circuit noted that the only case law on the subject held that the sanctions were enforceable against parties only, not attorneys. The district court rejected the holding as unpersuasive, but the Tenth Circuit disagreed with the district court’s analysis as overbroad. The Tenth Circuit noted that there was no express textual reference extending the sanction against attorneys, and found that consideration of the relevant text cut against the district court’s analysis. Under the circumstances of this case, the Tenth Circuit found the sanctions against Pennington unwarranted by Rule 37. Turning to defendants’ argument that the sanctions were allowed by the district court’s inherent power, the Tenth Circuit again disagreed, finding that although his failure to disclose was not substantially justified, it was not vexatious, wanton, oppressive, or done in bad faith. The Tenth Circuit reversed the sanction against Pennington.

Turning to attorney Csajaghy, the Tenth Circuit found there was no question that the district court had authority to impose a personal sanction. Csajaghy objected to the sanction, arguing the sanction was not warranted on the facts, sanctioning counsel was inconsistent with the decision not to sanction Sun River, and the procedure through which he was sanctioned violated due process. The Tenth Circuit found no merit to any of his arguments. The Tenth Circuit admonished that, as counsel of record in the litigation, it was irresponsible for Csajaghy to assume that the in-house counsel, Pennington, had reviewed the policy. Even if had known Pennington reviewed the policy, Csajaghy should have conducted an independent review to satisfy his professional obligations. The Tenth Circuit further chastised Csajaghy for assuming the policy would not provide coverage in lieu of exercising critical judgment. The Tenth Circuit also approved of the district court’s decision to sanction Csajaghy while not sanctioning Sun River, because the company reasonably relied on its counsel to provide relevant disclosures and counsel failed to do so. Finally, the Tenth Circuit addressed Csajaghy’s due process arguments, and although it agreed with the district court that the initial order imposing the sanction was procedurally defective, any defect was cured by the subsequent proceedings on the motion for reconsideration.

The Tenth Circuit reversed the sanction against attorney Pennington and affirmed the sanction against attorney Csajaghy.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 12/24/2015

On Thursday, December 24, 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and 32 unpublished opinions.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 12/28/2015

On Monday, December 28, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and one unpublished opinion.

United States v. Luster

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.