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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:American Flood Research Inc. sued three of its former employees in state district court for trade secret violations and destruction of company property. Concurrently, the employees sued AFR in federal court for employment discrimination. Initially, the employees were represented by Harry Jones in both suits. During the course of discovery, the parties disagreed over which side would be deposed first. AFR first noticed the employees’ depositions for mid-December 2002. The employees, through Jones, moved to quash those depositions and requested a hearing. A few weeks later, however, the employees withdrew the motion, and AFR moved to compel the depositions. The state trial court conducted a hearing and ordered the employees’ depositions to begin on Jan. 6, 2003. Shortly thereafter, the employees moved for reconsideration of this order and to recuse the trial judge, arguing that he was biased against Jones. A hearing on the motions was scheduled for Jan. 10, 2003. In the meantime, Jones notified AFR that the employees would not appear for depositions until the motions had been ruled upon. As promised, his clients did not appear on January 6. The employees later withdrew their recusal motion and then abandoned their motion for reconsideration. On January 15, 2003, the employees terminated Jones, who then withdrew as counsel of record. AFR moved for sanctions pursuant to Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 13 and 215 and Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code ��9.012 and 10.012 against both the employees and Jones, alleging discovery abuse. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court sanctioned only Jones, ordering him to pay AFR $15,000. At Jones’s request, the court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law, in which the court found that while the employees did not abuse the discovery process, Jones’ conduct was sanctionable under Rule of Civil Procedure 215.3. The trial court granted Jones’s motion to sever the sanctions order against him for purposes of appeal. On appeal, Jones argued that his actions did not amount to discovery abuse and, alternatively, that the sanction amount was excessive. Because the trial court found that the attorney, but not the party, abused the discovery process, the court of appeals held that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing sanctions on Jones, since sanctions under Rule 215.3 are reserved for discovery abuse by “a party.” AFR petitions for review. HOLDING:The court reverses and remands the matter to the court of appeals for further proceedings. In determining whether the trial court abused its discretion, the appellate court must ensure that the sanctions were appropriate or just. TransAmerican Nat. Gas Corp. v. Powell, 811 S.W.2d 913 (Tex. 1991). Appellate courts must conduct a two part test in making this determination. First, the court must ensure that there is a direct relationship between the improper conduct and the sanction imposed; in other words, the court should examine whether punishment was imposed upon the true offender and tailored to remedy any prejudice discovery abuse caused. Thus, the trial court must determine whether sanctions should be imposed on the party, its counsel, or both. Second, the court must make certain that less severe sanctions would not have been sufficient to promote compliance. A trial court’s discretion to impose sanctions does not depend on whether it issues a specific finding that the “party” — in this case, the employees — abused the discovery process. In reviewing sanctions orders, the appellate courts are not bound by a trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law; rather, appellate courts must independently review the entire record to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion. The order imposing sanctions neither referred to a specific rule nor tracked the language of any particular rule; contrary to the court of appeals’ analysis, whether the trial court properly sanctioned Jones is not governed by Rule 215.3 alone. Contra Metzger v. Sebek, 892 S.W.2d 20 (Tex. App. -Houston [1st Dist.] 1994, writ denied). Here, the court states, there is ample evidence to support a sanction against Jones pursuant to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 215.2, a rule AFR cited in its motion for sanctions. Here, the court states, the employees’ noncompliance with the discovery order can be attributed to Jones’s advice and conduct during the course of his representation. Specifically, the record supports the trial court’s finding that Jones’s dilatory tactics and his refusal to produce the employees for examination directly violated the trial court’s order. The employees, who required a translator when making court appearances, were particularly dependent on Jones’s advice during the course of litigation. Because the record supports a finding that only Jones’s conduct was sanctionable, the trial court was within its discretion to impose sanctions on him alone and, therefore, the court of appeals erred in reversing the sanctions order. When an appellate court reviews a sanctions order, it must ensure not only that sanctions are visited upon the true offender, but that less severe sanctions would not promote compliance. Because the court of appeals’ holding that the trial court erred in imposing sanctions disposed of the case, it did not complete the two-part TransAmerican inquiry. The court remands this matter to the court of appeals for that analysis. OPINION:Per curiam.

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