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In re Nora

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

February 11, 2015

IN RE: WENDY A. NORA,

Show Cause Hearing October 28, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. No. 3:13-cv-00021-bbc -- Barbara B. Crabb, Judge.

For PNC BANK, successor by merger to NATIONAL CITY BANK, successor by merger to NATIONAL CITY BANK OF INDIANA, a division of which was FNMC, Plaintiff - Appellee: James J. Carrig, Attorney, NIEBLER, PYZYK, ROTH & CARRIG, LLP, Menomonee Falls, WI.

For WENDY ALISON NORA, individually and in her capacity as counsel for SHEILA M. SPENCER, SHEILA M. SPENCER, individually, Appellants: Wendy Alison Nora, Attorney, ACCESS LEGAL SERVICES, Minneapolis, MN.

Before BAUER, POSNER, and TINDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 663

Tinder, Circuit Judge.

On August 13, 2014, we ordered attorney Wendy Nora to show cause why she should not be sanctioned for pursuing a frivolous appeal, see Fed. R. App. P. 38, and why she should not be disciplined for conduct unbecoming a member of the bar, see id. 46(c). PNC Bank, N.A. v. Spencer, 763 F.3d 650, 655 (7th Cir. 2014). For the reasons that follow, we now impose a sanction of $2,500 but suspend the sanction until such time, if ever, that Nora submits additional frivolous or needlessly antagonistic filings.

I. Background

As discussed in our earlier opinion, this case arose from a Wisconsin foreclosure action in which Nora, retained by Sheila Spencer, raised numerous objections focused on alleging that PNC Bank was fraudulently attempting to foreclose. Nearly four years after the suit had been filed, Nora then removed the case to federal court on the basis that she had just discovered through internet research that Freddie Mac was the " real party in interest." The district court remanded the case to state court and awarded fees and costs to PNC, concluding that Nora failed to explain how federal jurisdiction could exist when Freddie Mac was not a party to the case. Nora moved for reconsideration, and the court denied the motion as " frivolous," noting that Nora " ignored the voluminous law stating that district courts lack jurisdiction to reconsider remand orders, made no good faith argument for changing existing law and offered no meritorious arguments for reconsidering the decision to award fees." The court added that Nora had attempted " repeated procedural feints to delay the foreclosure that was properly before the state court."

Nora then appealed on behalf of both Spencer and herself, and we concluded that the appeal was sanctionably frivolous. We explained that Nora had " never presented any colorable basis for federal jurisdiction over this years-old state-court foreclosure case," leading us to " suspect that the removal was part of a strategy designed to gum up the progress of the case." Spencer, 763 F.3d at 655. We also observed that we lacked jurisdiction over Nora's appeal on her own behalf because liability for the award of fees and costs rested solely with Spencer; although Nora

Page 664

asserted that Judge Crabb had " engaged in a campaign of libel against [her]," this alleged criticism did not permit Nora to appeal. Id. at 653-54. Nora suggested at oral argument that she would withdraw her name as co-appellant but never did so. Id. at 654.

Further, we noted that Nora's conduct appeared to be part of a pattern of troubling litigation tactics. We observed that Nora had been suspended indefinitely from practicing law in Minnesota (though later reinstated) for conduct similar to her actions in this case: making frivolous arguments, with no prospect of success, in an effort to delay foreclosure of her clients' farm land. See In re Nora, 450 N.W.2d 328, 330 (Minn. 1990). Additionally, we observed that Nora's responses to her opponents and the courts during this litigation were " unnecessarily accusatory and antagonistic," noting that Nora had accused " the state court judge and court reporter of fraudulently manipulating transcripts, the district judge of pursuing 'a campaign of libel against [her],' and opposing counsel of engaging in 'actionable civil fraud and ...


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