Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 5:57 PM

COA: Right to Representation by Out of State Counsel Is Not A Substantial Right

Today the COA held that a denial of appellant's request to be represented by out-of-state counsel does not affect a substantial right and thus an interlocutory appeal of such a denial is not allowable. The case is Dance v. Manning.

Dance brought claims against Defendants related to her alleged wrongful discharge from the Pitt County Sheriff's Department. Dance filed a voluntary dismissal of the first suit alleging these claims. In that case she was represented by a Maryland attorney who was admitted pro hac vice. Dance refiled the lawsuit and moved to have the Maryland attorney again admitted pro hac vice. The trial court denied this motion.

The COA held that in this situation the right to be represented by an attorney of the Plaintiff's choice was not a substantial right. Here, there was no ongoing litigation in which the Maryland attorney had been involved, and the attorney had no recognized expertise in that type of case. Here the “litigation was still in its infancy, and plaintiffs’ counsel does not hold any unique expertise that cannot be found elsewhere in our state bar.” The COA further held that the denial of the motion did not serve as a revocation of the attorney's pro hac vice admission in the suit that was voluntarily dismissed, because when a plaintiff files a voluntary dismissal, “it [is] as if the suit had never been filed.” Thus, any orders from the first lawsuit had no applicability to the second suit.

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