Monday, August 16, 2004

FEDERAL JUDGE BLOWS A GASKET - WITH GOOD REASON

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As you may know, I currently work as a law clerk in a small firm in Provo, Utah. I spent most of last week writing a fairly extensive memorandum responding to the opposing party's motion for sanctions and attorney's fees. They are accusing us, along with our client, of attempting to frustrate their discovery efforts. Their motion was quite acrimonious and entirely unnecessary, which made it rather annoying to spend a significant amount of time drafting a 37-page memorandum (with exhibits, measured about 2 inches thick). It's a good memo and I'm rather confident we'll prevail on the motion, but the unnecessary effort and expense caused me a wee bit of frustration.

So it was rather refreshing to read this blog post (courtsey of Overlawyered.com) about a federal judge in Texas (where else?) named Sam Sparks who included some rather choice comments about overly-litigious attorneys in his order:
You have a pretty good idea that you're not going to get the relief requested when the judge starts his order with "When the undersigned accepted the appointment from the President of the United States of the position now held, he was ready to face the daily practice of law in federal courts with presumably competent lawyers. No one warned the undersigned that in many instances his responsibility would be the same as a person who supervised kindergarten."

Judge Sam Sparks of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin continues:
Frankly, the undersigned would guess that the lawyers in this case did not attend kindergarten as they never learned how to get along well with others. Notwithstanding the history of filings and antagonistic motions full of personal insults and requiring multiple discovery hearings, earning the disgust of this Court, the lawyers continue ad infinitum.
Of course Judge Sparks was just getting warmed up. Later in the order, he writes:
The Court simply wants to scream, "Get a life" or "Do you have any other cases?" or "When is the last time you registered for anger management classes?"
Just because the lawyers are litigators doesn't make overly litigious behavior acceptable. Petty sniping and inability to agree on matters that won't affect the outcome of the case are traits that will surely get a lawyer on the judge's bad side. And that just might affect the outcome of the case. It's not just bad manners, it's bad lawyering.
Sage bit o' wisdom there.