Rule 1-011 in New Mexico

Dec 18th, 2012 By: Paul Hibner
Topics: General Blog, Rule 1-011

Motions, pleadings, and other filings in New Mexico must satisfy the requirements of Rule 1-011. Essentially, Rule 1-011 provides by presenting any writing to a court, an attorney is certifying to the best of his/her knowledge, after conducting a reasonable inquiry, the writing is not frivolous and the factual and legal contentions are warranted and supported.[1]The Rule places an affirmative obligation on the signing attorney to satisfy himself/herself there are good grounds for the pleading.[2]The Rule requires “honesty and good faith in pleading” and its goals are “deterrence and punishment of offenders and compensation of their opponents for expenditure of time and resources responding to ill-founded pleadings or other papers.”[3]

While “[i]t cannot be over emphasized that counsel must be a zealous advocate for his client… [,]”[4]an attorney cannot pursue a claim on nothing more than hope.[5]Rule 1-011 targets situations where it is patently clear a motion has little chance of success.[6]If a court finds a pleading or other paper signed by an attorney is either: (1) not well grounded in fact, (2) is not warranted by existing law or a reasonable argument for its extension, or (3) is interposed for an improper purpose, the Court may issue sanctions.[7]Rule 1-011 sanctions may take the form of an award of attorneys’ fees,[8]or a monetary penalty.[9]

In short, an attorney should ensure every motion, pleading, or other filing has a sufficient legal and factual basis before filing.

[1]          SeeRivera v. Brazos Lodge Corp., 111 N.M. 670, 674 (1991) (“Rivera”).

[2]          See id.

[3]          Id. (citation omitted).

[4]            State ex rel. Children, Youth & Families Dep’t v. Maria C., 136 N.M. 53, 67 (Ct. App. 2004).

[5]          SeeRivera, 111 N.M. at 675.

[6]          See id., 111 N.M. at 675 (Rule 1-011’s central purpose is preventing baseless filings).

[7]          See id.

[8]          See Rivera, 111 N.M. at 677.

[9]          See Dona Ana Sav. and Loan Ass’n, FA v. Mitchell, 113 N.M. 576, 580 (Ct. App. 1991) (“[a]lthough the federal rule differs in part from our Rule 11 in certain respects, we think it is clear that both versions permit the imposition of a fine as a sanction in appropriate cases.”).