Sanctions are a financial or other penalties imposed by a judge on a party or attorney for violation of a court rule, for receiving a special waiver of a rule, or as a fine for contempt of court. The sanction may be paid to the court or to the opposing party to compensate the other side for inconvenience or extra legal work required to respond to the sanctioned conduct. In one noted case, an attorney was sanctioned for filing a frivolous case by being ordered to go back to school.
Sanctions may also be imposed by a state bar association upon a finding or acknowledgement that the lawyer has engaged in professional misconduct. Such sanctions may include a reprimand, admonishment, suspension, probation, or tempoary or permanent disbarment. Other sanctions and remedies which may be imposed include:
The following is the federal procedural rule dealing with frivolous or baseless filings by parties or attorneys:
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11
Rule 11. Signing of Pleadings, Motions, and Other Papers;
Representations to Court; Sanctions
(a) Signature. Every pleading, written motion, and other paper shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's individual name, or, if the party is not represented by an attorney, shall be signed by the party. Each paper shall state the signer's address and telephone number, if any. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. An unsigned paper shall be stricken unless omission of the signature is corrected promptly after being called to the attention of the attorney or party.
(b) Representations to the Court. By presenting to the court (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances,
(c) Sanctions. If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that subdivision (b) has been violated, the court may, subject to the conditions stated below, impose an appropriate sanction upon the attorneys, law firms, or parties that have violated subdivision (b) or are responsible for the violation.
(1) How Initiated.
(2) Nature of Sanction; Limitations. A sanction imposed for violation of this rule shall be limited to what is sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. Subject to the limitations in subparagraphs (A) and (B), the sanction may consist of, or include, directives of a nonmonetary nature, an order to pay a penalty into court, or, if imposed on motion and warranted for effective deterrence, an order directing payment to the movant of some or all of the reasonable attorneys' fees and other expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation.
(3) Order. When imposing sanctions, the court shall describe the conduct determined to constitute a violation of this rule and explain the basis for the sanction imposed.
(d) Inapplicability to Discovery. Subdivisions (a) through (c) of this rule do not apply to disclosures and discovery requests, responses, objections, and motions that are subject to the provisions of Rules 26 through 37.