Smith v. Lucia

In Smith v. Lucia, 173 Ariz. 290, 294, 842 P.2d 1303, 1307 (App. 1992), the court set forth that in Arizona, the law is "'well developed and clear' that probable cause is always a question of law to be determined by the court." The Smith court explained that "if the operative facts are undisputed, the existence of probable cause is a question of law to be determined solely by the court." Id. at 295, 842 P.2d at 1308. In Smith v. Lucia, the Court held that the appropriate test for determining whether an lawyer's conduct was objectively reasonable was: "Upon the appearances presented . . . would a reasonably prudent lawyer have instituted or continued the proceeding?" 173 Ariz. at 297, 842 P.2d at 1310. Smith went on to note that "unfortunately, however, our case law does not tell us how to measure this standard." Id. Smith then resolved the issue by incorporating the standard followed in federal and Arizona cases interpreting Rule 11: Cases decided under Rule 11, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which is identical to Rule 11, Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, are helpful in determining the standard by which we may measure the reasonableness of an attorney's conduct. . . . We can conclude that the Rule 11 objective standard should apply here. Id.