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Court Order attorney signature question

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  • Court Order attorney signature question

    Firstly, I am not an attorney. State is Virginia. Here's my question: Can an attorney for the defendant sign a court order granting a nonsuit and as such attorney also sign it on behalf of the opposing plaintiff's attorney, i.e. plaintiff's attorney's name by defendant attorney's signature? Please explain why or why not. It just seems wrong to me and although the case is now closed however, many other legal issues are still open and the conduct of both attorneys is questionable. Has anyone ever seen this happen and is it deemed legal and ethical to do?

  • #2
    Re: Court Order attorney signature question

    Originally posted by NotAnAtty View Post
    Firstly, I am not an attorney. State is Virginia. Here's my question: Can an attorney for the defendant sign a court order granting a nonsuit and as such attorney also sign it on behalf of the opposing plaintiff's attorney, i.e. plaintiff's attorney's name by defendant attorney's signature? Please explain why or why not. It just seems wrong to me and although the case is now closed however, many other legal issues are still open and the conduct of both attorneys is questionable. Has anyone ever seen this happen and is it deemed legal and ethical to do?
    It seems to me that both parties are stipulating to the nonsuit. If a plaintiff wishes to give up on the lawsuit, he or she can file a nonsuit as to all defendants with the court, and all proceedings will stop. Alternately, if a plaintiff settles with one of several defendants, he or she can file a nonsuit as to that one. A nonsuit is a right of the plaintiff, but it may be prevented if the defendant has pleaded for affirmative relief.

    Since the attorneys are legally authorized to act on behalf of their clients, and if no affirmative relief was asked for by the defendant, then it seems perfectly logical - and legal - for them to agree to and have an order entered as to the nonsuit.

    Why do you seem to believe that it's wrong? Who are you in this case?

    Did the defendant ask for some kind of affirmative relief that wasn't granted? If so, that will be an issue to take up with the defendant's attorney as to why they agreed to the nonsuit in opposition of their client's needs.
    "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
    "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
    "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Court Order attorney signature question

      Let me ask the question a different way because you didn't answer what I was asking.

      I was the defendant in an unlawful detainer in which the plaintiffs were co-guardians/co-conservators for my elderly mother. The plaintiffs were replaced by a successor guardian/conservator for my mother after I had filed to have them removed (they were financially exploiting, abusing and neglecting my mother). The successor guardian/conservator did not wish to pursue this unlawful detainer case and a nonsuit order went before the court whereby the nonsuit was granted and the case was voluntarily dismissed and stricken from the docket. My attorney signed the order as defendant's attorney. My attorney also signed the order for the plaintiffs' attorney by signing her name by his name. I just saw this today when I got a copy of the court order on file from the clerk of court.

      So, the nonsuit is not in question. The fact my attorney signed for himself as defendant's attorney and then signed for the plaintiff's attorney is the action of which I am questioning the ethics and procedure in what was done. Is this proper or even ethical for any attorney to do on a court order in a civil litigation case? Is this a normal occurance or something questionable? Does this invalidate the court order or not?

      Thank you in advance for any replies.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Court Order attorney signature question

        Originally posted by NotAnAtty View Post
        Let me ask the question a different way because you didn't answer what I was asking.

        I was the defendant in an unlawful detainer in which the plaintiffs were co-guardians/co-conservators for my elderly mother. The plaintiffs were replaced by a successor guardian/conservator for my mother after I had filed to have them removed (they were financially exploiting, abusing and neglecting my mother). The successor guardian/conservator did not wish to pursue this unlawful detainer case and a nonsuit order went before the court whereby the nonsuit was granted and the case was voluntarily dismissed and stricken from the docket. My attorney signed the order as defendant's attorney. My attorney also signed the order for the plaintiffs' attorney by signing her name by his name. I just saw this today when I got a copy of the court order on file from the clerk of court.

        So, the nonsuit is not in question. The fact my attorney signed for himself as defendant's attorney and then signed for the plaintiff's attorney is the action of which I am questioning the ethics and procedure in what was done. Is this proper or even ethical for any attorney to do on a court order in a civil litigation case? Is this a normal occurance or something questionable? Does this invalidate the court order or not?

        Thank you in advance for any replies.
        So what you're saying is that YOUR attorney also signed as if he was the Plaintiff's attorney - signed for them and with their name, or with his/her own name?

        That definitely is questionable. It might be unethical and perhaps even illegal if he/she did so without the other attorney's express permission to do so. Did you happen to check with the Plaintiff's attorney to see if they gave permission for this, or if they even knew about it?

        To summarize, YES, it IS permissible for someone (an attorney) to sign on behalf of someone else if they have legal authorization to do so (such as power of attorney or being a legal representative), or if the other person allows them to do so. Whether or not it was questionable, illegal or unethical depends entirely on whether or not they were authorized to do so.
        "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
        "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
        "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Court Order attorney signature question

          I don't know if plaintiffs' attorney gave my attorney the "OK" to do so... since it is litigation, I cannot imagine an attorney being so lazy to not sign something themselves and collect the almighty billable minute for doing so.

          I did fax the question to plaintiffs' attorney today but I am not sure if she will respond and answer.

          I do not believe my attorney acted in my best interests during the case as it unnecessarily dragged on for months while he sat on our motion to replace the appointed guardians/conservators who willfully neglected, abused and financially exploited my mother, so litigation and billable hours dragged on for months beyond what they should have. How do I get help to submit a complaint to the Virginia State Bar? I am tapped out because of all the legal stuff forced upon me in retailiation for outing them.

          Thanks again in advance.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Court Order attorney signature question

            Originally posted by NotAnAtty View Post
            I don't know if plaintiffs' attorney gave my attorney the "OK" to do so... since it is litigation, I cannot imagine an attorney being so lazy to not sign something themselves and collect the almighty billable minute for doing so.

            I did fax the question to plaintiffs' attorney today but I am not sure if she will respond and answer.

            I do not believe my attorney acted in my best interests during the case as it unnecessarily dragged on for months while he sat on our motion to replace the appointed guardians/conservators who willfully neglected, abused and financially exploited my mother, so litigation and billable hours dragged on for months beyond what they should have. How do I get help to submit a complaint to the Virginia State Bar? I am tapped out because of all the legal stuff forced upon me in retailiation for outing them.

            Thanks again in advance.
            At this point, I believe you are putting the cart before the horse. FIRST, find out whether or not they authorized your attorney to sign on their behalf. If they did not, then I'm sure they will take that matter up with the VA State Bar themselves (especially if they are so antagonistic from the whole battle in the first place).

            As for the litigation and billable hours issue, I'm not so sure that a Bar complaint is even appropriate at this juncture. Since it seems they ultimate got you what you wanted, they did the job they were paid to do. Whether or not they charged too much to do so could be a subjective thing, or it could be that you might not have been quite as familiar with the whole process required to get this done and miscalculated what you think it should have cost you. If you DO decide to go forward, try using their Fee Dispute Resolution Program first.
            "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
            "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
            "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Court Order attorney signature question

              Thank you so much for all your answers.

              Just to clarify that my attorney dragged things on by doing things such as not making timely changes to the petition, i.e., we gave him changes to the draft in early October 2012. He did not make the revisions and did not submit any petition for us until almost February, almost 5 months later. There was no reason for him to sit on the petition for so many months, even as we asked numerous times for him to file it with the court. Additionally, when I asked him to ask the court to freeze my mother's assets except to pay her mortgages and medical/essential expenses so the co-guardians/co-conservators would not continue to financially exploit her and deplete her cash, he said it was a good idea and then he did nothing to do so. It was only after the attorneys on the other side who were exploiting mom wanted out because they were almost done spending all her money did our attorney finally file our petition. So yeah, I think a complaint with the State Bar is in order.

              Comment

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