Not only the amount was staggering, but, as the appellate court found:
- the jury instruction on the subject was not clear as to whether the testimony was precluded; and
- it is generally unfair to sanction an attorney for actions of a third party that is not within the attorney's control.
"Each time plaintiff's counsel brought the contempt issue before the court, they presumed what they were initially required to prove and presented their conclusions with transparent venom, bloom, innuendo and increased outrage, refreshed periodically with personal attacks on Ms. Raynor," said the opinion, written by Superior Court President Judge Susan Gantman.
It is very clear that courts should not have authority to impose monetary fines upon attorneys, and especially fines of such a magnitude as was imposed upon attorney Nancy Raynor.
Such sanctions, imposed as a matter of the court's "discretion" (whim) are absolutely arbitrary and can be used simply as a tool of retaliation against an attorney who the judge simply does not like.
I am glad that for attorney Raynor the ordeal is over.
But, "discretionary" sanctions against attorneys and parties, which are nearly impossible to eliminate on appeal, are still on the books and should be eliminated.
Attorney Raynor is simply lucky that the issue upon which she was appealing caused an uproar in the upper echelons of he legal establishment.
Had the fine been $10,000, she would still be saddled with it.