That’s Your Argument? Really.

C’mon. Admit it. You have wanted to reply to that Summary Judgment brief with your very best Bill Maher on. Maybe you even did write that first draft with the sort of tone your mother-in-law might use.

If you let that first draft be your final draft, though, beware of Illinois Judge Diane Cannon, who had nothing nice to say to two Sidley & Austin attorneys regarding the tone of their arguments. The National Law Journal reports on the doings at the November 10, 2009 hearing here. At what sounded like a fairly contentious hearing on a Motion to Quash a subpoena against Sidley’s clients, two Northwestern University journalism students, Judge Canon made a heated point of castigating Sidley partner Richard O’Brien and his associate Linda Friedlieb about their brief:

Cannon, who was a state prosecutor before being elected a judge in 1996, turned on O’Brien, saying the case was “no laughing matter” and castigating him for submitting a brief that, she said, didn’t include attorney names and was “dripping with sarcasm.” “It is reprehensible,” a steaming Cannon said, calling the Oct. 5 brief an editorial not fit for court.

The judge said an imprisoned pro se litigant had submitted a more appropriate brief in another case earlier that day and added that Karen Daniel, a Northwestern University School of Law professor who represents McKinney, had never submitted such a brief. O’Brien had difficulty interrupting her to call attention to the attorney names on the last page with Friedlieb’s signature.

I KNOW I have quelled the urge to “write it as I see it” in pleadings, letters and other legal communications. The comedienne in me runs deep but the professional in me knows better. Still, though, there are times …..

You can get your copy of the offending pleading here. Let me know what you think. Did these Sidley attorneys overstep their professional bounds or were they merely acting as zealous advocates?

Hat tip to Legal Writing Prof Blog.

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That's Your Argument? Really.

C’mon. Admit it. You have wanted to reply to that Summary Judgment brief with your very best Bill Maher on. Maybe you even did write that first draft with the sort of tone your mother-in-law might use.

If you let that first draft be your final draft, though, beware of Illinois Judge Diane Cannon, who had nothing nice to say to two Sidley & Austin attorneys regarding the tone of their arguments. The National Law Journal reports on the doings at the November 10, 2009 hearing here. At what sounded like a fairly contentious hearing on a Motion to Quash a subpoena against Sidley’s clients, two Northwestern University journalism students, Judge Canon made a heated point of castigating Sidley partner Richard O’Brien and his associate Linda Friedlieb about their brief:

Cannon, who was a state prosecutor before being elected a judge in 1996, turned on O’Brien, saying the case was “no laughing matter” and castigating him for submitting a brief that, she said, didn’t include attorney names and was “dripping with sarcasm.” “It is reprehensible,” a steaming Cannon said, calling the Oct. 5 brief an editorial not fit for court.

The judge said an imprisoned pro se litigant had submitted a more appropriate brief in another case earlier that day and added that Karen Daniel, a Northwestern University School of Law professor who represents McKinney, had never submitted such a brief. O’Brien had difficulty interrupting her to call attention to the attorney names on the last page with Friedlieb’s signature.

I KNOW I have quelled the urge to “write it as I see it” in pleadings, letters and other legal communications. The comedienne in me runs deep but the professional in me knows better. Still, though, there are times …..

You can get your copy of the offending pleading here. Let me know what you think. Did these Sidley attorneys overstep their professional bounds or were they merely acting as zealous advocates?

Hat tip to Legal Writing Prof Blog.

Suffering the Consequences of Incomprehensibility

1st third of 16th century
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Haven’t posted one of these in the while. The ABA Journal reports here on another lawyer taking a beating from a judge for poor writing. The Dayton, Florida lawyer, David W. Glasser, was the attorney on the receiving end of U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell’s ire. Apparently, Attorney Glasser filed a Motion to Dismiss with the District Court and Judge Presnell denied the Motion without prejudice. Attached to the Judge’s Denial is a copy of the original Motion complete with red editing marks. The Judge ordered Glasser to copy his client on the criticism.

I read the ABA’s blurb listing the grammatical errors pointed out by the Judge: several examples of excess spacing; typographical errors; incorrect placement of punctuation outside of quotation marks; incorrect capitalization; wrong word use; and, one very long sentence. Procedural errors aside, I thought to myself “sure, these are problems, but the Judge’s actions seem pretty harsh.” And then I read the example quoted by the Journal:

“A review counsel’s file subsequent to the court order indicates that for some reason full which counsel is unaware, the defendant named in the complaint was changed to the current defendant. Counsel believes this was changed by counsel’s prior assistant it was no longer with counsel’s firm.”

Whaaaat? Case closed.

[if you really want to, you can read the Motion here]

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