Friday, October 16, 2009

How Important Are Correct Citations Anyway?

Linda Espitia and Gordan Fouche were engaged to be married. Focusing on their transportation needs, the two bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle together. But the path of love is difficult, so when the two broke up, they entered into a Dissasociation Agreement and Promissary Note. When Fouche defaulted, Espitia sued. Disatisfied with the amount awarded by the trial court, Espitia appealed to the Court of Appeals.

Fouche, who proceeded pro se, did not file a brief. In support of Espitia's argument about her liquidated damages claim, her counsel cited "Buellesbach v. Roob 2005 AP 160 (Ct.App.Dist.I)." However, as the court explains in a lengthy footnote, this Buellesbach decision had nothing to do with liquidated damages. Moreover, the citation, and even the listed court (District I), was incorrect. Here is the Court's response, after it recounted the steps it took to locate the correct decision:

It is a violation of Wis. Stat. Rule 809.19(1)(e) to provide citations which do not conform to the Uniform System of Citation and of Wis. Stat. Rule 809.23(3) to cite to unpublished opinions. One reason may be that they can be time-consuming to locate. A $100 penalty is imposed against Espitia's counsel.

Espitia v. Fouche, 314 Wis.2d 507, 758 N.W.2d 224 (2008). By the way, the lower court's decision was affirmed, so Espitia lost her appeal.

Check out Legal Blog Watch for its discussion of this lawyer's sloppiness.

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