Federal Judges

Admonished Judge Lynn Hughes Sanctions Attorney with Financial Penalty and Educational Training

Attorney U.A. Lewis must pay the reasonable attorney’s fees and costs associated with her collateral suits and perform ten hrs CLE Training.

LIT UPDATE; SANCTIONS ORDER BY JUDGE LYNN N. HUGHES ISSUED

MAR 16, 2021

Order on Sanctions

Under federal rule 11, the court may impose sanctions sua sponte on an attorney for filing a pleading or other paper for an improper purpose, including harassment, undue delay, or needlessly increasing the costs of litigation.

On June 22, 2020, U.A. Lewis filed suit in the 6Ist District Court of Harris County on behalf of Kedric Crawford against Teddy Sims, the City of Baytown, and Keith Dougherty – raising section 1983  and state law claims.

After removal, it has been styled 4:20-cv-03003 Kedrick Crawford v. Teddy Sims

Following six months of discovery, on February 2.8, 2.02.I, Lewis filed notices to dismiss voluntarily the two remaining defendants – Sims and the City. During the March 3, 2021, conference that Lewis did not attend, sending an associate, the court highlighted that the filed notices had been with prejudice. She amended both to be without prejudice – while the conference was in session.

During this same conference, the court was made aware of two other lawsuits Lewis filed on February 26, 2021 :

4:21-cv-624 Kedric Crawford v. Harris Counry, et al. and  4:21-cv-647 Crawford Kedrick v. Keith Dougherty.

on behalf of Crawford against various defendants raising section 1983 claims. All of the claims in both lawsuits arose from the same set of operative facts as did the case already before this court. The complaints in all three lawsuits were so similar that a majority of each was copied verbatim – with the same grammatical errors and extraneous puffery this court had already disapproved.

At the end of the conference, Crawford’s present counsel withdrew the sole valid notice of dismissal against the City. The next day Lewis again filed a notice to dismiss the City voluntarily without prejudice.

During the show cause hearing, Lewis appeared to give two reasons for the concurrent filings: being overwhelmed with work; and the desire to “re-group” by dismissing the remaining defendants in 2o-cv-3003, collecting all the defendants and claims she wanted to bring, and then refiling the case. Lewis said she had no intent to harass or delay the case .

This court is unconvinced. If Lewis’s true intention was to “re-group,” it is clear she would have dismissed the pending case first and then re-filed with all claims and parties. That is not what she did here. Lewis brought the two new lawsuits first on February 26, then dismissed the original case on February 28. This all occurred after Lewis, in her January 29, 2021 status report, expressed her frustrations with the how the court was handling the case – saying the court’s orders were “burdensome,” the court was being unfair, and incidentally attacking defense counsel.

Lewis cannot even try to raise the need to avoid the statute of limitations as a justification as it does not expire in this ca.se until July 6, 2021 – nearly four months from now.

In 4:21-cv-647 Crawford Kedrick v. Keith Dougerty, Kedric Crawford’s name was spelled differently and in reverse – as Crawford Kedrick – when entered into the system. Doing this stops the clerk’s office from being able to match the new case with the original as it appears to be a different plaintiff. This further shows an intent to avoid this court’s jurisdiction, harass the defendants, and drive up the costs of litigation.

Similar conduct by Lewis has also occurred in the Estate of Hector Salas cases where she filed two collateral suits that arise from the same operative facts:

A. 2020-78868 (Harris County District Court) Estate of Hector Salas, Jr., et al. v. James Knox, et al. and

B. 4:21-cv-484 Estate of Hector Salas, , et al. v. Harris Country, et al., 

while the original case – 4:19-cv-4479 Estate of Hector Salas, Jr., et al. v. City of Galena Park, et al. – was still pending before this court.

If nothing else, this clearly indicates a pattern of conduct and solidifies the court’s understanding that Lewis’s actions in the Crawford case are sanctionable.

As Lewis’s actions have made clear, she has attempted to avoid this court’s jurisdiction through collateral lawsuits and judge-shopping – while also harassing the defendants, causing delays, and increasing the costs of litigation – and will be sanctioned.

To compensate the defendants for their increased costs, U.A. Lewis must pay the reasonable attorney’s fees and costs associated with her collateral suits:

4:21-cv-624 Kedric Crawford v. Harris Counry, et al. and  4:21-cv-647 Crawford Kedrick v. Keith Dougherty.

The defendants will keep separate records of their direct fees and expenses related to these additional suits, so the amount of the sanction can be determined at the end of the case.

Because the sanctionable actions are cloaked in her willful misconstruction of the federal rules, Lewis must complete ten credit hours of continuing legal education – by December 31, 2021 – in courses that focus on civil procedure, with at least six hours being based on the federal rules.

After completing a course, Lewis must report to the court:

(a) the title and a detailed description of the course;

(b) the number of credit hours of the course;

(c) proof of completion; and

(d) the number of hours left to be completed.

If the court is not satisfied with the course’s applicability to this order, it may decide to not credit the course toward the ten-hour requirement. All credits may still count toward a state bar’s mandated continuing legal education requirement.

Controversial jurist to decide on sanctions for Houston attorney accused of ‘judge shopping’

MAR 16, 2021

A federal judge with a reputation for belittling women from his bench threatened on Friday to fine or jail a Houston civil rights attorney who he said failed to follow procedure in a Baytown police brutality case. (Crawford v. Sims (4:20-cv-03003))

Judge Lynn N. Hughes said he would make a decision next week on possible sanctions against the lawyer, U.A. Lewis.

She appeared before him in person — by court order — to justify multiple lawsuits she had filed in separate courts that surround the events of a case already in Hughes’ courtroom.

Those other lawsuits, the judge wrote,

“range from identical to close with shifting defendants and claims, as camouflage, including collateral attacks on this court’s jurisdiction.”

Any possible sanctions will not exceed $50,000 or 150 days of incarceration, the judge said in the order.

Lewis said she was solely protecting her client’s interests. She is representing Kedric Crawford, a man who said he was stunned and punched by Baytown officers searching his car in July 2019, leaving him hospitalized.

During the hearing Friday, Hughes first focused on the defense attorneys’ verbal complaints about Lewis’ behavior, mostly unrelated to the intention of the proceeding. She finally requested to be heard, sparking a contentious volley of explanations and accusations.

The attorney told the judge that she filed one of the subsequent lawsuits to correct an error regarding a defendant who was left off the original case, and she said she assumed all of the cases would be rejoined in Hughes’ court.

But then she said she decided to dismiss the case in front of Hughes with the plan to regroup, start fresh and refile at a later date, all because the initial lawsuit was getting too complicated with new information coming to light.

“It wasn’t an effort for me to circumvent your jurisdiction in filing that lawsuit,” she said.

“I have made a lot of errors along the way … I am guilty of being overworked and nothing nefarious is going on here with my filings.”

Hughes said Lewis was at least required to notify him of related cases being filed. He also called the content of her lawsuits unbusinesslike.

“It’s not consistent with the way law’s practiced, that you sue a whole bunch of people, make claims against them, insult them – there are lots of gratuitous comments in the proceedings … and you just dismiss it all,” he said.

Defense attorneys for the city of Baytown condemned the filings of other cases and accused Lewis of “judge shopping,” adding that the additional lawsuits would cost their clients more money.

“It was an obvious attempt to get out of this court, and I think it was done in bad faith,” Steven D. Selbe said.

Lewis also fought allegations that she was not turning over records to the defense, saying she made “every effort” to obtain records that defendants were seeking.

“I disapprove of people who don’t do what they’re ordered to do,” Hughes responded. “Every effort – that’s your problem, you didn’t make every effort.”

Hughes has drawn attention for various remarks and rulings, and in late January, he was pulled from a sex discrimination case after an appellate panel said he “suffocated” a female plaintiff’s access to fundamental fairness.

The 5th U.S. Circuit ruled that he should be removed from ruling on the psychology professor’s challenges against two universities, and the cases were reassigned to Judge Andrew S. Hanen.

The conservative circuit found that Hughes, among other things, repeatedly failed to give the woman a chance to request documents through the discovery process. He also made “off-key remarks” about how much she complained, and suggested the defense lawyers pursue a dismissal, the circuit judges said.

In other news-making moments, the judge once issued a rare “order of ineptitude” to a terrorism prosecutor from Washington, D.C., who showed up to his courtroom in a track suit.

In 2013, the circuit criticized Hughes for dismissing comments allegedly made by a Fort Bend ISD official that if Barack Obama were to be elected president, the Statue of Liberty would have its torch replaced by a piece of fried chicken.

The 5th Circuit admonished Hughes in 2018 after remarks to a female prosecutor about women that the court found “demeaning, inappropriate and beneath the dignity of a federal judge.”

The sanction in the criminal case came after Hughes said of a female prosecutor, “It was a lot simpler when you guys wore dark suits, white shirts and navy ties… We didn’t let girls do it in the old days.” Hughes previously explained to the Houston Chronicle he was speaking about an FBI agent and referring to the exclusion of women historically. He did not see his 2017 remarks as derogatory, he said.

Hughes is a 79-year-old and a Houston native who has served since his appointment in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan.

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Admonished Judge Lynn Hughes Sanctions Attorney with Financial Penalty and Educational Training
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