An administrative law judge (“ALJ”) slapped the wrist of a non-attorney representative for a respondent in a recent FAA civil penalty action. In The Matter of M & R Helicopters, LLC, the representative filed 53 pre-trial motions. Many of these motions were duplicative and requested relief that was inappropriate and unsupported by the facts or procedural posture of the case. The ALJ denied all 53.
In denying the motions, the ALJ initially noted that the representative advocated the respondent’s position with “passion and zealotry.” However, the ALJ went on to cite the representative for failing to sufficiently “appreciate the solemnity and decorum of the legal process.” The ALJ further stated
“the process and its participants must be treated with appropriate dignity. It is not consistent with proper decorum to demean Complainant’s attorneys and/or this process. Such language lacks the dignity expected of participants in this or any other legal proceedings. All parties should use language and make arguments which uphold the dignity of the proceeding of which they are a part.”
Finally, the ALJ concluded with the warning that “[v]iolation of these principles will be dealt with appropriately.”
This is an extreme example of how a non-attorney representative can do more damage to your case than to help. In this situation, the representative has certainly not done his client any favors by making excessive, inappropriate motions and, in the process, alienating and likely annoying the ALJ. Zealous advocacy is one thing. But when the rules, civility and decorum are disregarded, then the process is miserable for everyone. For his client’s sake, hopefully the representative will get the message and proceed more appropriately.