After years of litigation and arbitration, a federal judge considers whether to confirm an award that resulted from the arbitration.  He orders a hearing but doesn’t say he’ll take up the motion to confirm.  But at the hearing he grants a motion by the lawyer for the party opposing confirmation to withdraw (due to a conflict of interest).  The Article III appointee then proceeds with the merits of the confirmation motion.  He rejects a continuance request (to secure new counsel) and refuses to consider an opposition (that old counsel filed before withdrawing).  Finding the motion to confirm without opposition, His Honor confirms the award.  The losing party appeals.

Does this sort of stuff still happen?  Yes, Blawgletter fears, it does indeed.  The Fourth Circuit fortunately corrected the miscarriage, holding that the proceedings denied the appellant’s "due process right to meet and oppose the claims" and "otherwise [to] participate in the resolution of the merits of this case."  RZS Holdings AVV v. PDVSA Petroleo S.A., No. 06-1680 (4th Cir. Nov. 1, 2007).

Wow?  Yikes!

Barry Barnett

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