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Lawyers� group critiques judge�s actions in civil rights lawsuit
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- The Rhode Island Bar Association has issued a sharp critique of U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi�s actions during a civil suit stemming from the friendly fire death of a Providence police officer.

Lisi last year, midway through the trial, revoked the permission of New York lawyers Barry Scheck and Nick Brustin to participate in the Rhode Island case, saying they had made false statements in a memorandum of law they filed while representing Leisa Young.  Young�s son, who was black, was off-duty and trying to help with a disturbance when he was killed by two white officers.

In a 32-page friend-of-the-court brief, the bar association said

Lisi�s move appeared to be �a case of a �vindictive pursuit by an

offended judge.��

Lisi said the memo the lawyers had filed falsely claimed that she had ordered them to reach an agreement about a shooting-scene diagram, and she concluded that Scheck, Brustin and Rhode Island lawyer Robert Mann had violated a federal rule of civil procedure that bars baseless court filings.

The three lawyers have since appealed, and both the Rhode Island Bar Association and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund are now weighing in with support for that appeal.

According to The Providence Journal, the bar association argued that Lisi took statements in the memorandum out of context, failing to follow an established legal standard.

The group also said it was �particularly troubled� that Lisi removed Scheck and Brustin in the middle of the trial.

Lawyers from out of state must ask the court for permission to represent a client �pro hac vice��a Latin term meaning �for this one case.� Lisi revoked Scheck and Brustin�s pro hac vice permission without giving them a chance to be heard, the bar association said.

�The court�s �discretion� to admit out-of-state attorneys pro hac vice is not or should not be a sword that the court holds over the head of counsel, ready at any moment to drop and lop counsel out of the case,� attorney Lauren Jones wrote in the bar association�s brief.

Removing Scheck and Brustin from the case, Lisi said, �Let me suggest to both of you, don�t ever come back in one of my cases.�

The bar association called that an �indefensible admonition� and said that and the lack of due process are both �unfortunately stark indications of the district court�s loss of temperament.�

The brief asks the 1st Circuit to overturn the finding that the three lawyers had violated Rule 11 and reinstate Scheck and Brustin�s pro hac vice status.

Lisi also tossed out the civil-rights and wrongful-death claims filed by Leisa Young, and those decisions are also being appealed.

Lisi declined comment on the brief, saying she would not discuss a pending case.

The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund has also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Young�s lawyers.


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