In the case of Akers v. Mortensen, 2016 Opinion No. 50 (April 27, 2016), the Idaho Supreme Court imposed I.A.R. 11.2 sanctions sua sponte against an attorney who was no longer representing a party to the appeal.
I.A.R. 11.2 provides that every document filed with the Court must be signed. This signature constitutes a certificate that, to the best of the signer’s knowledge, the filing “is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose.” Recently the Court has clarified that sanctions may be awarded under I.A.R. 11.2 when an attorney violates either the “frivolous filings clause” or the “improper purpose clause” of the rule. Sims v. Jacobson, 157 Idaho 980, 342 P.3d 907, 914 (2015). Sims noted the departure from prior opinions, which required violation of both clauses.
In Akers, after filing a brief and shortly before oral argument, the appellant substituted counsel. Despite the change of counsel, the Court concluded sua sponte that the attorney who submitted the appellant’s brief violated the frivolous filings clause of I.A.R. 11.2. Counsel filed a four-page brief challenging the lower court’s allocation of attorney fees. The Court found it “impossible” to find an argument that the district court abused its discretion when the brief did “not even mention the word ‘discretion.’” Slip. op. at 3. Concluding that the brief was devoid of both relevant argument and citation to authority, the Court found sanctions appropriate.
For other examples of the Court sua sponte imposing I.A.R. 11.2 sanctions, see Jim & Maryann Plane Family Trust v. Skinner, 157 Idaho 927, 342 P.3d 639, 648 (2015), and Bettwieser v. New York Irrigation District, 154 Idaho 317, 330, 297 P.3d 1134, 1147 (2013).