MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A federal appeals court has sanctioned the city of Memphis for filing a frivolous appeal as it tried to get a police brutality lawsuit dismissed.
The Commercial Appeal reports (http://bit.ly/1Sh7xXr) the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said in a ruling released Monday it was sanctioning the city and an MPD patrolman $1,500 each in connection with police brutality allegations filed by two former University of Memphis football players beaten near Beale Street in 2011.
The sternly worded opinion sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Memphis.
"Because these appeals were so clearly futile and apparently prosecuted for improper purposes, we conclude that sanctions are warranted," the court said. " ... These sanctions are to offset some of the plaintiffs' appellate attorney's fees and costs, to compensate the plaintiffs, in part, for defending this frivolous appeal."
Lawyer Robert Spence, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs, says he believes the city filed its appeal as a stall tactic.
City Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen says the appeal was necessary because patrolman Marico Flake had already filed an appeal.
Associate professor Alistair E. Newbern runs the Vanderbilt Law School Appellate Litigation Clinic. Newbern said appeals courts issued or threatened sanctions in about 10 cases nationwide in February, mostly involving individuals representing themselves.
"What's rare is that it happened against the city of Memphis, an established legal department," she said.