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

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Rule 11.04: Inapplicability to Discovery.

Subdivisions 11.01 through 11.03 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. [As amended by order entered January 29, 1987, effective August 1, 1987; and by order filed February 1, 1995, effective July 1, 1995.]

Advisory Commission Comments.

Rule 11 makes it an absolute requirement that the attorney, if any, sign, and makes the signature, in effect, the attorney's statement that the pleading is filed in good faith. Rule 11 does not abrogate statutes which require that pleadings be verified or accompanied by affidavit.

The [1987] revision includes motions and "other papers" as well as pleadings. Significantly, an attorney's belief that a court filing is well-founded must be a belief "formed after reasonable inquiry." The amended wording therefore imposes an objective reasonable lawyer standard of inquiry. What inquiry is reasonable, of course, necessarily must depend on particular facts. If a client retains a lawyer on the eve of expiration of a statute of limitations, a reasonable inquiry must be performed in view of the exigencies of the situation. [1987.]

Advisory Commission Comment [1995].

Amended Rule 11 tracks the current federal version. Sanctions no longer are mandatory, and non-monetary sanctions are encouraged. The 21-day safe harbor provision allows otherwise sanctionable papers to be withdrawn, thereby escaping sanctions.

Tennessee courts have not seen the widespread abuse of sanctions law experienced by federal courts under the previous rule. See Andrews v. Bible, 812 S.W.2d 284 (Tenn. 1991). Nonetheless, the amended language should prevent potential future abuse.

Advisory Commission Comment [1999]

11.01: A lawyer must place his or her Board of Professional Responsibility number on court papers.

 Advisory Commission Comments [2003].

A spelling error is corrected in Rule 11.03(2); there is no substantive change.

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