You might want do your homework before asking this Contra Costa County Superior Court judge for attorney’s fees. Not only does he have an eagle eye, but he’s not afraid to call a lawyer out.
In one recent-ish decision, Judge David Flinn noted in a less-than-pleased fashion that counsel for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District had not submitted what the judge wanted when he asked for a “task by task” analysis of work done.
Flinn also took the school district’s attorney, Walnut Creek solo Peter Bonis, to task for comments in his briefing that the judge found "offensive" –- particularly when Bonis blamed the lengthy trial on the “ineptitude” of the plaintiff/contractor’s attorneys, Robert Rosin of Mountain View’s Leonidou & Rosin and Andrew Van Ornum, a partner in the San Francisco office of Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald. “You are wrong Mr. Bonis,” Flinn wrote. “The services of both of those attorneys was professional and capable. … You, Mr. Bonis, have provided the court with real and meaningful examples of ‘inept.’”
We don't even have to tell you to read on, after the jump
The judge's Nov. 30 ruling went into those examples of "inept" -- as well as some more of "chutzpah" --before suggesting that "Perhaps, Mr. Bonis, an apology to opposing counsel would be very appropriate."
Bonis told Legal Pad that his opponents had frequently been criticized by Flinn during the trial for taking too long. As one example, he pointed to this moment from a court transcript (Page 32 here), in which Flinn is speaking to Rosin:
THE COURT: Counsel, we've been all afternoon with very few facts. We've heard your final argument and you'll get it again at the end of the day but please let's get the facts for the jury.
As for the apology Flinn urged Bonis make to his opponents, Bonis said “hell’s going to freeze over before I do that."
Rosin told Legal Pad his opponent’s “inept” comments were frustrating, “but obviously it’s nice to hear something like that from the judge.”
The case resulted in a judgment of $1.5 million, plus fees and costs, against the Mt. Diablo Unified School District; it was brought by the contractor that built Delta View Elementary School (in Pittsburg) for the district. That might be the impetus for the fine-toothed comb –- in his decision, Flinn noted “the economic effect that this penalty award will have upon the children attending the various schools of the Mt. Diablo District.” He awarded $775,000 in fees.
— Kate Moser