Silly Lawyer Tricks XXIV. There are appropriate places for a haiku or to quote Bugs Bunny, but an appellate brief is not one of them

AuthorTom Donlon
Appellate Practice
Summer 2021, Vol. 40 No. 3
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June 03, 2021
Silly Lawyer Tricks XXIV
There are appropriate places for a haiku or to quote Bugs
Bunny, but an appellate brief is not one of them.
By Tom Donlon
Larry E. Parrish, P.C. v. Bennett, 989 F.3d 452 (6th Cir. 2021)
The full title of this case, which identifies the defendants as “Judges of the Tennessee Court
of Appeals” is an early indication that something odd is going on. As the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Sixth Circuit lays out the history of the case, that is strikingly confirmed.
The matter began with a Tennessee state court action involving the dissolution of a
partnership. Dissatisfied with the trial court’s result, the losing partner (Strong) fired her
original attorney and hired the Parrish Firm to bring a malpractice action. The Parrish
Firm’s performance had its own issues, including failing to comply with the deadline to
identify experts, which ultimately led to summary judgment against Strong.
In the interim, Parrish, the attorney, convinced Strong to assign some of her rights in the
original dissolution action. Id. at 454 (citing Larry E. Parrish P.C. v. Strong, 2018 WL
6843402 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2018)). Subsequently, the Parrish Firm filed suit against Strong to
enforce the assignment, and Strong cross-claimed for malpractice. Strong eventually
recovered almost $2.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages. On appeal, a three-
judge panel of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, after noting that “the procedural nightmare
and associated complications of this litigation cannot be overstated,” affirmed. Strong, 2018
WL 6843402, at *1. The Tennessee Court of Appeals “made factual statements that
[Parrish’s] claims were false.” Bennett, 989 F.3d at 455. There followed “a string of appeals
and dilatory motions concerning the same underlying case.” Id. During these proceedings,
two judges of the Tennessee Court of Appeals referred Parrish to the Board of Professional
Responsibility “after concluding that he had made statements impugning the integrity of
the Tennessee legal system.” Id. at 455 n.1.
Undeterred, in 2020—15 years after Strong retained itthe Parrish Firm brought an
action in federal court. It claimed that the Tennessee judges had denied the firm a fair trial,
in violation of due process, and access to justice, in violation of equal protection. Id. at 455.
The district court dismissed the action based on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and on lack
of jurisdiction. Id. at 45556. The district court also granted attorney fees against Parrish,
finding he “had not met his obligation to review relevant law before filing suit” and “had

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