An attorney who filed multiple appellate briefs that changed the body of her original brief was publicly reprimanded by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.Briefs aren’t supposed to be moving targets, the per curiam Oct. 12 opinion said.
‘Empty Head’ Errors Lead to Attorney Lee Ann Lowder’s Reprimand
An attorney who filed multiple appellate briefs that changed the body of her original brief was publicly reprimanded by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Briefs aren’t supposed to be moving targets, the per curiam Oct. 12 opinion said.
Lee Ann Lowder filed an appellate brief in the underlying case on March 30, 2018 containing an appendix that needed to be redacted. The court ordered her to make the redactions.
On April 11, Lowder filed the redacted appendix along with a brief that included changes to its body. She was ordered to resubmit the brief with just the redactions.
Lowder filed another brief, but it, too, had changes to its body. The next version complied with the court’s order.
Lowder thought she could make the changes in the April 11 version, but the court said neither its order nor circuit precedent allow that. Lowder apparently didn’t research the issue, and “errors made with an empty head are hard to excuse,” it said
The nonconforming second brief was due to problems with the way it was named in Lowder’s computer, she said. But there were precautions she could have taken to avoid those problems, the court said.
Even though circuit precedent makes clear briefs must remain unchanged after filing, circuit rules and its handbook don’t, the court said. Instead of ordering a harsher penalty, it therefore gave Lowder a public reprimand.
Judges William J. Bauer, Frank H. Easterbrook, and Daniel A. Manion were on the panel.
The case is B.G. v. Bd. of Educ. of Chi., 2018 BL 377153, 7th Cir., No. 17-1806, 10/12/18.