Cooper v. Texaco, Inc., Nos. 91-3441

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore SMITH and EMILIO M. GARZA; JERRY E. SMITH
Citation961 F.2d 71
PartiesDouglas W. COOPER, et al., Plaintiffs, v. TEXACO, INC., et al., Defendants, Berney L. Strauss, Strauss & Associates, and Richard Lee Root, Movants-Appellants. In re Berney L. STRAUSS, Petitioner.
Decision Date01 May 1992
Docket NumberNos. 91-3441,91-3446

Page 71

961 F.2d 71
Douglas W. COOPER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
TEXACO, INC., et al., Defendants,
Berney L. Strauss, Strauss & Associates, and Richard Lee
Root, Movants-Appellants.
In re Berney L. STRAUSS, Petitioner.
Nos. 91-3441, 91-3446.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
May 1, 1992.
Rehearing Denied June 9, 1992.

Ransom, Bann & Stone, Metairie, La., for Strauss & Associates & Richard Lee Root.

George F. Riess, Monroe and Lemann, New Orleans, La., for Berney L. Strauss and Strauss & Associates.

Marshall Joel Hough, Jr., Metairie, for Claire & Douglas Cooper.

Terrence C. Forstall, Eileen Gleason Shaver, Asst. U.S. Atty., Harry Rosenberg,

Page 72

U.S. Atty., Peter G. Strasser, Asst. U.S. Atty., New Orleans, La., for Trinidad Corp.

Eileen Shaver, Peter G. Strasser, Fred P. Harper, Asst. U.S. Attys., Harry Rosenberg, U.S. Atty., New Orleans, La., for defendants.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Before SMITH and EMILIO M. GARZA, Circuit Judges, and KENT, * District Judge.

JERRY E. SMITH, Circuit Judge:

I.

On April 9, 1990, Berney L. Strauss was "suspended from the practice of law before this court" by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, en banc. This court affirmed the suspension. In re Strauss, 931 F.2d 891 (5th Cir. Apr. 18, 1991) (per curiam) (unpublished) (No. 90-3441). At the time of the suspension, Strauss was a practicing attorney in Louisiana and was the sole partner and shareholder of Strauss & Associates, a professional law corporation. After his suspension, he hired two associates, 1 who became the attorneys of record for any and all Strauss & Associates's cases pending in the Eastern District.

Strauss solicited new clients, and contingency fee contracts were entered into between Strauss & Associates and new clients in Eastern District cases. Strauss supervised and controlled his associates, participated in depositions, 2 negotiated and approved settlements, advised clients, and wrote letters on his professional stationery relating to cases filed in the Eastern District. He did not submit any papers to the court under his own name or appear in court in the Eastern District (except to the extent that appearance at a deposition can be deemed to be participation in a court proceeding).

On March 20, 1991, after a bench trial, Strauss was found guilty of criminal contempt for violating the suspension order. On April 10, 1991, the district court ruled that neither Strauss, nor Strauss & Associates, nor any lawyer working for Strauss & Associates could collect fees for any legal work performed on Eastern District cases after the suspension order was entered. Strauss appeals both rulings, which bear our docket No. 91-3446 (criminal contempt) and No. 91-3441 (receipt of fees).

II.

A person may not be convicted of criminal contempt for violating an order unless that order is clear and unambiguous. United States v. O'Quinn, 913 F.2d 221, 222 (5th Cir.1990) (per curiam). 3 Any ambiguity must be resolved in favor of the defendant. Id. (citing NBA Properties v. Gold, 895 F.2d 30, 32 (1st Cir.1990)). Strauss contends that the order was vague.

We find that the suspension order was unambiguous and that no reasonable attorney could fail to understand it. Local Disciplinary Rule 20.101E of the Eastern District of Louisiana, entitled "Practicing Before Admission or During Suspension," provides,

Any person who exercises in any proceeding in this court any of the privileges of a member of the bar or who...

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11 practice notes
  • Kourouvacilis v. Afscme, No. 04-P-1747.
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • February 9, 2006
    ...13. Some cases allowing recovery fail to discuss the conduct for which the attorney was suspended. See, e.g., Cooper v. Texaco, Inc., 961 F.2d 71 (5th Cir.1992); In re Mekler, 14. At least one court has drawn a distinction between an attorney's claim for fees against his client and a claim ......
  • United States v. Blechman, No. 10-40095-01/02-SAC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • June 22, 2011
    ...specific to be enforceable.'" (quoting Finney v. Arkansas Bd. of Correction, 505 F.2d 194, 213 (8th Cir. 1974))); Cooper v. Texaco, Inc., 961 F.2d 71, 72 n. 3 (5th Cir. 1992) ("There are three elements to contempt under 18 U.S.C. § 401(3):(1) a reasonably specific order, (2) violation of th......
  • U.S. v. Voss, Nos. 94-1320
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • May 2, 1996
    ...specific to be enforceable.' " (quoting Finney v. Arkansas Bd. of Correction, 505 F.2d 194, 213 (8th Cir.1974))); Cooper v. Texaco, Inc., 961 F.2d 71, 72 n. 3 (5th Cir.1992) ("There are three elements to contempt under 18 U.S.C. § 401(3):(1) a reasonably specific order, (2) violation of the......
  • Ex parte Chambers, No. 94-0495
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 15, 1995
    ...the willful intent to violate the order. See In the Matter of Hipp, Inc., 5 F.3d 109, 112 (5th Cir.1993) (citing Cooper v. Texaco, Inc., 961 F.2d 71, 72 n. 3 (5th Cir.1992); United States v. Burstyn, 878 F.2d 1322 (11th Cir.1989)). 1 In reviewing the record, we are without jurisdiction to w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Kourouvacilis v. Afscme, No. 04-P-1747.
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • February 9, 2006
    ...13. Some cases allowing recovery fail to discuss the conduct for which the attorney was suspended. See, e.g., Cooper v. Texaco, Inc., 961 F.2d 71 (5th Cir.1992); In re Mekler, 14. At least one court has drawn a distinction between an attorney's claim for fees against his client and a claim ......
  • United States v. Blechman, No. 10-40095-01/02-SAC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • June 22, 2011
    ...specific to be enforceable.'" (quoting Finney v. Arkansas Bd. of Correction, 505 F.2d 194, 213 (8th Cir. 1974))); Cooper v. Texaco, Inc., 961 F.2d 71, 72 n. 3 (5th Cir. 1992) ("There are three elements to contempt under 18 U.S.C. § 401(3):(1) a reasonably specific order, (2) violation of th......
  • U.S. v. Voss, Nos. 94-1320
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • May 2, 1996
    ...specific to be enforceable.' " (quoting Finney v. Arkansas Bd. of Correction, 505 F.2d 194, 213 (8th Cir.1974))); Cooper v. Texaco, Inc., 961 F.2d 71, 72 n. 3 (5th Cir.1992) ("There are three elements to contempt under 18 U.S.C. § 401(3):(1) a reasonably specific order, (2) violation of the......
  • Ex parte Chambers, No. 94-0495
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 15, 1995
    ...the willful intent to violate the order. See In the Matter of Hipp, Inc., 5 F.3d 109, 112 (5th Cir.1993) (citing Cooper v. Texaco, Inc., 961 F.2d 71, 72 n. 3 (5th Cir.1992); United States v. Burstyn, 878 F.2d 1322 (11th Cir.1989)). 1 In reviewing the record, we are without jurisdiction to w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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