Suspended lawyer ‘cannot take no for an answer,’ must pay sanctions

A suspended Gary lawyer continues to pursue cases that federal judges have ruled frivolous, and a judge in Hammond this week rejected his claim that he couldn’t afford to pay a $500 sanction imposed in one of the cases.

Robert Holland sued 21 Gary and Lake County defendants in 2015 including the Gary mayor, Lake County prosecutor, numerous law-enforcement officers and others. His pro se suit made claims against the defendants under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, but the suit was rejected in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, and Judge Rudy Lozano imposed the sanction.

Holland, who has previously been sanctioned and warned against filing frivolous pleadings, argued he couldn’t afford to pay the penalty for frivolous filings. He said he relies solely on Social Security disability payments of $1,021 a month, owns no property and on the day of a hearing before a magistrate on his ability to pay, had only $20 in cash and $20.01 in two checking accounts. He said he was a plaintiff in at least six cases, five of which are related with three on appeal, and would need to pay court fees of more than $1,500 within 60 days.

But Lozano adopted Magistrate Judge John Martin’s recommendation that Holland can afford to pay sanctions. He wrote that in several cases, Holland has been denied to file appeals in forma pauperis, but nevertheless proceeded with appeals at his own expense, even after his IFP request was denied because the litigation wasn’t in good faith. “Holland has filed fifteen separate appeals since 2009, including four appeals in 2016,” Lozano wrote in Robert Holland and the Law Firm of Robert Holland v. City of Gary, et al., 2:15-cv-207.

“It appears that Holland simply cannot take no for an answer. This has been a recurring theme in his numerous cases before this Court. While persistence is admirable in some circumstances, in a court of law, there comes a point where persistence becomes an abuse of the judicial process. Holland has long since passed that point,” Lozano wrote.

“If Holland chooses to spend his limited income pursuing appeals in bad faith, he is entitled to do that (although he may ultimately face additional sanctions). However, expenses resulting from that choice do not render him unable to pay the sanctions in this case. … There is no demand that Holland come up with $500 today, tomorrow, or even next month. He may make payments over time as he is able, but the sanctions must be paid,” the judge wrote.

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