A little wake-up call from Justice Drowata, formerly of the Tennessee Supreme Court:

The certification which results from the attorney’s signature on a motion, pleading, or other document is directed at the three substantive prongs of Rule 11: its factual basis, its legal basis, and its legitimate purpose. Schwarzer, “Sanctions Under the New Federal Rule 11-A Closer Look,” 104 F.R.D. 181, 186 (1985). See also, Note, “The Intended Application Of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11: An End To The Empty Head, Pure Heart Defense,” 41 Vand.L.Rev. 343, 361-62 (1988). A signature signifies to the Court that the signer has read the pleading, motion, or other paper, has conducted a reasonable inquiry into the facts and the law, and is satisfied that the document is well-grounded in both, and is acting without any improper motive. Business Guides v. Chromatic Communications Ent., 498 U.S. 533, 111 S.Ct. 922, 929, 112 L.Ed.2d 1140 (1991); Cooter & Gell v. Hart Marx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 110 S.Ct. 2447, 2454, 110 L.Ed.2d 359 (1990). “The essence of Rule 11 is that signing is no longer a meaningless act; it denotes merit. A signature sends a message to the [trial judge] that this document is to be taken seriously.” Business Guides, 111 S.Ct. at 930. The purpose of Rule 11 as a whole is to bring home to the individual signer his personal, nondelegable responsibility. “The message thereby conveyed to the attorney, is that this is not a team effort but in the last analysis, yours alone, precisely the point of Rule 11.” Pavelic & LeFlore v. Marvel Entertainment Group, 493 U.S. 120, 110 S.Ct. 456, 460, 107 L.Ed.2d 438 (1989). An attorney who signs a paper without the required substantiated belief “shall” be penalized by “an appropriate sanction.” This sanction may, but need not, include payment of the other party’s expenses. Although the rule must be read in light of concerns that it will spawn satellite litigation and chill vigorous advocacy, see Advisory Committee notes, any interpretation must give effect to the rule’s central goal of deterrence. Cooter & Gell, 110 S.Ct. at 2454. See also, Note, “The Immediate Appealability of Rule 11 Sanctions,” 59 Geo.Wash.L.Rev. 683 (1991) (purpose of Rule 11 is to prevent abusive and dilatory tactics by litigants).

Andrews v. Bible 812 S.W.2d 284, 287 -88 (Tenn. 1991)

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