Judge says "dismissed with prejudice"--how serious is this to a lawyer?

One of Trump’s legal shenanigans was destroyed today by a judge in Pennsylvania who declared the case “dismissed with prejudice”. A quick google told me that this phrase means that the case is closed forever and cannot be appealed.
To a layman like me, that seems like a very serious call for a single judge to make, putting him in a position of absolute power, with no appeals allowed.
So I have a couple questions for you lawyers out there:
How often does this happen? What would happen in a specific judge became known as the guy who uses " dismissed with prejudice" far more often than average.(maybe due to corruption, bribery, etc?)

How serious is it? In this case, the judge basically told Trump’s lawyers that they were wasting the court’s time by bringing a frivolous case with no evidence.That seems to be to be close to a charge of being in contempt of court, which can result in prison time.
How does a decision of "dismissed with prejudice affect the lawyers who lost their case? Is it a black spot on their career? does it imply professional incompetence?

IANAL (and never regretted it).
I believe “dismissed with prejudice” means the plaintiff cannot file the same case again, even if he claims to have new evidence or new arguments. It does NOT preclude an appeal to the higher court.

The Trump campaign has already announced they plan to appeal this case, even unto the Supreme Court if they can.

Aye; it means they can’t re-file the same case. They can still appeal the judges ruling.

And if the judge refuses the appeal? Is that the end of it? Or can it get kicked up to SCOTUS?

Dismissals without prejudice are often dismissals at the request of the plaintiff or situations in which there is some (correctable) defect in the pleading that can be repaired and the case refiled. Indeed, the traditional rule (subject to many exceptions) is that a dismissal without prejudice cannot be appealed because it is not a “final” decision subject to appellate review.

A dismissal with prejudice means that the plaintiff cannot file the same case in the future (and that the dismissal has collateral effect in other proceedings). A dismissal with prejudice is a final order and can be appealed. It represents a finding on the merits after an adjudication.

At the complaint stage, it almost certainly means that the plaintiff “lost” on a pure question of law. For example, the district court in Bostock v. Clayton County dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice at the pleading stage (correctly under the governing precedent). Whatever one thinks of the ultimate outcome of Bostock in the Supreme Court, I do not think that participating in that case (as the plaintiff’s attorney) will cloak you in eternal professional shame.

The district judge does not permit or “refuse” an appeal of a final order. The dismissal is appealable to the relevant Circuit Court of Appeals. The non-prevailing party in the court of appeals can seek review in the Supreme Court.

You may also elect to seek an injunction (or stay) pending appeal, which is generally presented to the district court, and then can be presented to the court of appeals and supreme court (in turn), and can move on an independent track.

This is interesting. I had, up to this point, assumed that a review for whether certiorari would be granted was true of all courts. They’d decide if there was even any grounds for an appeal based on the claim made, and could reject. But it seems this is not the case.

A bit of a side question: I do note that it seems some state’s top courts do have similar powers. If something is not adjudicated by the top state court, is it still possible to appeal to the US Supreme Court (giving them a chance to grant cert), or is the appeal dead?

Subject to all sorts of exceptions and ambiguities, a party generally has the right to appeal a final decision of a district court and certain interlocutory orders. The appellate court certainly can conclude that there is no “grounds of appeal”, but they do so by affirming the lower court judgment (and dismissing the appeal). (And, of course, the appellate court generally cannot conduct an independent review of lower court cases and intervene without a party filing a notice of appeal).

Supreme Court review is (almost always) discretionary and, theoretically, is governed by larger issues than whether the individual case is right or wrong.

The answer is “yes”. Under Supreme Court Rule 13, “A petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of a judgment of a lower state court that is subject to discretionary review by the state court of last resort is timely when it is filed with the Clerk within 90 days after entry of the order denying discretionary review.”

But note that the US Supreme Court can only review state court judgments for federal issues–usually whether a state law/action conflicts with the federal constitution or a state court’s interpretation of the federal constitution.

I’m interested on hearing responses to the question above. We already know the definition of “dismissed with prejudice.”

That’s probably going to depend on how many cases are dismissed with prejudice and why they were dismissed with prejudice. Sometimes it means nothing more than that the parties have settled their dispute outside of court.

Can someone please dismiss Rudy with extreme prejudice?

that’s one reason why I posted this in the Politics forum , and not General Questions.
In this case in Pennsylvania (and all the other election fraud cases this past week)…the judge threw out the case with a statement of disgust at the lack of evidence provided by the plaintiff.
Cases involving the White House are pretty rare, so the lawyers probably don’t mind getting thrown out of court, they can still write on their resume “worked for the President”.

But for typical, mundane legal cases: how often does it happen, and how often can a lawyer get thrown out of court, before he gets a bad reputation? ,

Maybe you do, but the OP didn’t (and presented a clearly incorrect definition), so it was worth clarifying.

It depends. And I’m not sure there’s any easy way to quantify it. Most dismissals with prejudice result from settlements (most cases settle; settlements are a normal part of the process). Of rulings on motions to dismiss, it’s really going to vary. A dismissal with prejudice means that there was a final decision on the law (i.e., no set of facts could entitle you to the requested relief under your legal theory).

If you’re a lawyer that deals with complex and novel legal issues, this is going to be a fairly common occurrence (that was my point about Bostock) and I can’t imagine that it results in any stigma. It’s impressive to be on the winning side of major complex cases, but it’s also pretty impressive to be on the losing side of those cases too. (And these don’t need to be as sexy as cases involving a presidential election; there are all sorts of complex legal issues out there regarding statutory interpretation, regulations, statutes of limitations, etc.)

If you’re getting your cases dismissed with prejudice at the Motion to Dismiss stage in areas where the law is settled (and you’re not looking to break new ground), then it’s a fairly inauspicious sign about your grasp of the law at issue.

But I don’t know if there’s anyway to quantify a respectable dismissal versus an embarrassing one and if you get a bad reputation, that’s not going to be why.

I think you’re still reading too much into the “with prejudice” part. “With prejudice” on a dismissal just means that the dismissal constitutes a decision on the case. If the dismissal was without prejudice that would mean that the court had not made a decision on the case, but merely brought it to a procedural end. The plaintiffs could (depending on the reasons for dismissal) re-file their suit, possibly with an amended complaint.

Whether a particular dismissal with prejudice would reflect badly on a lawyer would depend entirely on the reasons the case was dismissed. For example, if the case was dismissed with prejudice because the plaintiffs’ own lawyers moved for such a dismissal as part of a settlement agreement (and many settlement agreements would include such a stipulation so that the defendants have some assurance that the plaintiffs won’t turn around and sue again later), then it’s just a bit of bog standard civil lawyering. If, on the other hand, a case is dismissed with prejudice based on a motion from the defendants, and the judge grants it because he finds the plaintiffs don’t have standing to sue the defendants, and even if they did their lawyers haven’t articulated a legal theory by which they could possibly prevail on the merits of the case, well, then observers might conclude that you’re not a very good lawyer. Or alternatively, that you have chosen your clients poorly.

This case is more like the latter. The decision is actually not hard to follow for a non-lawyer, and is pretty scathing. I particularly like the footnote where the judge says that even if it were logically possible for the court to find Pennsylvania’s election system both constitutional and unconstitutional at the same time it would not do so.

I just want to push back on this a little. In my (relatively brief) legal career, I have on numerous occasions been involved with cases that raise serious questions about jurisdiction, or the availability of certain injunctive relief, or the determination of which statute of limitations to apply, or various immunity doctrines. All of these cases were susceptible to a dismissal (with prejudice) at the Rule 12 stage and all of them presented serious unsettled legal issues (many of which were or will be reviewed and settled by the appellate courts). I don’t think anyone would conclude that these cases were being brought by bad lawyers or that they had bad clients.

ETA: I haven’t read the M.D.Pa. opinion, so I’m not offering this as a reflection on any particular case.

It seems like the opposite – a “dismissed without prejudice” might be more damaging to a lawyer, in that it usually means that the lawyer made a mistake in the case. And the Judge is giving you a chance to file the case again, hopefully with your mistake(s) fixed this time.

Whereas a “with prejudice” just means that you lost the case; the legal ruling was against you. (Often, you lost when the damn fool client ignored your advice and demanded you file the case anyway.)

Neither kind of dismissal inherently reflects on the lawyer. There are plenty of good, and plenty of bad, reasons for having a case dismissed, with or without prejudice. As pointed out already, “prejudice” has a particular legal meaning that is not inherently a rebuke.