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RULE 11. SIGNING OF PLEADINGS, MOTIONS AND OTHER PAPERS; REPRESENTATIONS TO COURT; SANCTIONS

Effective Date: 8/1/2001

Obsolete Date: 3/1/2009

(a) Signature. Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's individual name, or, if the party is not represented by an attorney, must be signed by the party. Each paper must contain the signer's address and telephone number, if any. If the person signing the paper is an attorney, the paper must also contain the attorney's State Board of Law Examiners identification number. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. An unsigned paper must be stricken unless omission of the signature is corrected promptly after being called to the attention of the attorney or party.

(b) Representations to Court. By presenting to the court (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances,--

(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law;
(3) the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and
(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or are reasonably based on a lack of information or belief.

(c) Sanctions. If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that subdivision (b) has been violated, the court may, subject to the conditions stated below, impose an appropriate sanction upon the attorneys, law firms, or parties that have violated subdivision (b) or are responsible for the violation.

(1) How Initiated.
(A) By Motion. A motion for sanctions under this rule must be made separately from other motions or requests and must describe the specific conduct alleged to violate subdivision (b). The motion, brief, and any other supporting papers, must be served as provided in Rule 5, but must not be filed with or presented to the court unless, within 21 days after service of the motion (or such other period as the court may prescribe), the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, allegation, or denial is not withdrawn or appropriately corrected. The respondent shall have 10 days after a motion for sanctions is filed to serve and file an answer brief and other supporting papers. If warranted, the court may award to the party prevailing on the motion the reasonable expenses and attorney's fees incurred in presenting or opposing the motion. Absent exceptional circumstances, a law firm shall be held jointly responsible for violations committed by its partners, associates, and employees.
(B) On Court's Initiative. On its own initiative, the court may enter an order describing the specific conduct that appears to violate subdivision (b) and directing an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why it has not violated subdivision (b) with respect thereto.

(2) Nature of Sanction; Limitations. A sanction imposed for violation of this rule must be limited to what is sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. Subject to the limitations in subparagraphs (A) and (B), the sanction may consist of, or include, directives of a nonmonetary nature, an order to pay a penalty into court, or, if imposed on motion and warranted for effective deterrence, an order directing payment to the movant of some or all of the reasonable attorneys' fees and other expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation.

(A) Monetary sanctions may not be awarded against a represented party for a violation of subdivision (b)(2).

(B) Monetary sanctions may not be awarded on the court's initiative unless the court issues its order to show cause before a voluntary dismissal or settlement of the claims made by or against the party which is, or whose attorneys are, to be sanctioned.

(3) Order. When imposing sanctions, the court shall describe the conduct determined to constitute a violation of this rule and explain the basis for the sanction imposed.

(d) Inapplicability to Discovery. Subdivisions (a) through (c) of this rule do not apply to disclosures and discovery requests, responses, objections, and motions that are subject to the provisions of Rules 26 through 37.

Rule 11 was amended, effective March 1, 1986; March 1, 1990; March 1, 1996; March 1, 1997; August 1, 2001; March 1, 2009; March 1, 2011; March 1, 2014; August 1, 2016; March 1, 2018; September 15, 2019.

Rule 11 governs to the extent Rule 11 and N.D.R.Ct. 3.2, conflict.

Rule 11 was revised, effective March 1, 1996, in response to the 1993 revision of Fed.R.Civ.P. 11. North Dakota's rule differs from the federal rule in the following respects: 1) North Dakota's rule requires attorneys to cite their State Board of Law Examiners identification number when signing papers; and 2) North Dakota's rule does not require allegations or denials to be specifically identified when immediate evidentiary support is lacking.

Subdivision (a) was amended, effective March 1, 2014, to specify that the e-mail address required in documents signed by an attorney or party is the signer's e-mail address for electronic service.

Subdivision (a) was amended, effective  March 1, 2018, to state that notarization is not generally required for documents filed in civil actions and to provide a method for using unsworn statements made under a penalty of perjury.

Subdivision (a) was amended, effective September 15, 2019, to remove language specifying the form of an unsworn declaration. N.D.C.C. § 31-15-05 provides the required form for an unsworn declaration.

Subdivision (e) was added, effective March 1, 2009, to permit an attorney to file a notice of limited representation indicating an intent to represent a party for one or more matters in a case, but not for all matters. An attorney must also serve a notice of termination of limited representation when the attorney's involvement ends. Rule 5, Rule 11 and N.D.R.Ct. 11.2, were amended to permit attorneys to assist an otherwise self-represented party on a limited basis without undertaking full representation of the party. Under N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.2 (c) a lawyer may limit the scope of the representation if a client consents after consultation.

Subdivision (e) was amended, effective August 1, 2016, to add new paragraphs (1) and (2) providing additional details on the services an attorney may perform while assisting a self-represented party on a limited basis and indicating when notice of these services must be provided to other parties and the court. The new paragraphs are based on language from Neb. R. Prof. Conduct 3-501.2.

Rule 11 was amended, effective March 1, 2011, in response to the December 1, 2007, revision of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The language and organization of the rule were changed to make the rule more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules.

SOURCES: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of April 26, 2019, pages 8-10; September 29-30, 2016, pages 20-22; September 24-25, 2015, pages 2-11; April 23-24, 2015, pages 16-25; January 29-30, 2015, page 22; April 25-26, 2013, page 16; September 24-25, 2009, pages 13-14; January 24, 2008, pages 2-7; October 11-12, 2007, pages 20-26; September 28-29, 1995, pages 2-3; April 27-28, 1995, pages 3-4; January 26-27, 1995, pages 8-10; September 29-30, 1994, pages 24-26; April 20, 1989, page 2; December 3, 1987, page 11; April 26, 1984, pages 25-26; January 20, 1984, pages 16-18; September 20-21, 1979, page 7; Fed.R.Civ.P. 11.

STATUTES AFFECTED:

CONSIDERED: N.D.C.C. ch. 31-15.

CROSS REFERENCE: N.D.R.Civ.P. 5 (Service and Filing of Pleadings and Other Papers); N.D.R.Ct. 11.1 (Nonresident Attorneys); N.D.R.Ct. 11.2 (Withdrawal of Attorneys); N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.2 (Scope of Representation); N.D.C.C. §§ 28-26-01 (Attorney's Fees by Agreement-Exceptions-Awarding Costs and Attorney's Fees to Prevailing Party), and 28-26-31 (Pleadings Not Made in Good Faith).

Effective Date Obsolete Date
09/15/2019 View
03/01/2018 09/15/2019 View
08/01/2016 03/01/2018 View
03/01/2014 08/01/2016 View
03/01/2011 03/01/2014 View
03/01/2009 03/01/2011 View
08/01/2001 03/01/2009 View
03/01/1997 08/01/2001 View
03/01/1986 03/01/1997 View