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OUCH! Judge Gives Lawyers What They Deserve

It's old news, I guess, and many of you may have seen this already -- but I hadn't (thanks to my student, Angela Giampolo, for passing on the citation to me), and it's more than worth another look in any event. The case is Bradshaw v Unity Marine (147 F.Supp.2d, S.D. Texas 2001) -- available online here or here. Some choice tidbits:

"Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact--complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words--to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions. With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins. . . .

"Plaintiff responds to this deft, yet minimalist analytical wizardry with an equally gossamer wisp of an argument, although Plaintiff does at least cite the federal limitations provision applicable to maritime tort claims. Naturally, Plaintiff also neglects to provide any analysis whatsoever of why his claim versus Defendant Phillips is a maritime action. Instead, Plaintiff "cites" to a single case from the Fourth Circuit. Plaintiff's citation, however, points to a nonexistent Volume "1886" of the Federal Reporter Third Edition and neglects to provide a pinpoint citation for what, after being located, turned out to be a forty-page decision. Ultimately, to the Court's dismay after reviewing the opinion, it stands simply for the bombshell proposition that torts committed on navigable waters (in this case an alleged defamation committed by the controversial G. Gordon Liddy aboard a cruise ship at sea) require the application of general maritime rather than state tort law. (What the . . .)?! The Court cannot even begin to comprehend why this case was selected for reference. It is almost as if Plaintiff's counsel chose the opinion by throwing long range darts at the Federal Reporter (remarkably enough hitting a nonexistent volume!). . . ."

"After this remarkably long walk on a short legal pier, having received no useful guidance whatever from either party, the Court has endeavored, primarily based upon its affection for both counsel, but also out of its own sense of morbid curiosity, to resolve what it perceived to be the legal issue presented. Despite the waste of perfectly good crayon seen in both parties' briefing (and the inexplicable odor of wet dog emanating from such) the Court believes it has satisfactorily resolved this matter. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED."

Bruce:
I think the judge got reprimanded for this one.
7.12.2006 3:58pm
David Berke:
Too bad, if true; it has my nomination for best judicial opinion ever.
7.12.2006 4:00pm
David Post (mail) (www):
Reprimanded?! Really?! They should've given him an award ... maybe we should start a Judge Samuel Kent Legal Writing Award here on the VC ...
7.12.2006 4:04pm
some guest:
That thing's been floating around the internet forever (well, since 2001 I guess). Judge Kent is notorious for heaping abuse on litigants.

I don't really see what's productive about a judge going out of his way to ridicule the attorneys appearing before him. Sure, rule against them, but all of the overboard references to crayons, etc., are just unprofessional. And I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it may violate the applicable cannons of judicial ethics re: judicial temperament (I haven't spent the time to look them up though, so I may be wrong on this point).
7.12.2006 4:05pm
Ira B. Matetsky (mail):
http://www.greenbag.org/bullying_intro.htm
7.12.2006 4:15pm
te (mail):
If the pleadings really were so deficient, he could have decided the motion before him in a few sentences.

The fact that he goes out of his way to ridicule the attorneys simply demonstrates that he is a mean-spirited bastard.

And someone with far too much time on his hands, too.
7.12.2006 4:16pm
Porkchop (mail):
I can say with great certainty that the canons of ethics applicable to the judiciary say absolutely nothing about crayons or number 2 pencils. With respect to temperament, the Judge appeared even-handed and good-humored to me. This is not, however, the best opinion ever -- that honor still has to go to the old "limp member" opinion from somewhere in the Southern Reporter (the first series) -- all you have to do is go to the law library and start opening old volumes; when you get to the right one, it falls open to the right page, because so many law students have been there before you.
7.12.2006 4:17pm
Ming the Merciless Siamese Cat (mail):
If the judge wasn't reprimanded he should have been. How very brave of him, to heap abuse, scorn and ridicule (to a national audience) on the professional abilities of lawyers unable to respond or defend themselves. No matter how bad their pleadings, they could not have been as bad as the judge's hyperbole would indicate.

I can understand a judge losing patience in the midst of a hearing or trial, but to draft, edit, reflect upon and then publish an opinion like this shows a remarkable lack of judgment, maturity, judicial temprement and fairness.

The judge abused his position and authority. End of story.
7.12.2006 4:22pm
Apodaca:
Porkchop says
This is not, however, the best opinion ever -- that honor still has to go to the old "limp member" opinion from somewhere in the Southern Reporter (the first series)
Nope. That would be 12 So.2d 305, if I recall correctly.

I am sad to say that I knew this cite long before going to law school (or knowing how the citation system works), thanks to an old buddy who preceded me into the maw of legal practice.
7.12.2006 4:26pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Who, exactly, would reprimand a federal judge? And how?
7.12.2006 4:27pm
Steve Lubet (mail):
I wrote an essay about Judge Kent for the Green Bag, and the title gives my opinion: "Bullying from the Bench." The judge had plenty of ways to correct poor lawyering, but public ridicule was neither the best nor the most effective. It was a schoolyard tactic, and it isn't made more acceptable by the general inclination to laugh at the misfortune of others.

You can read my essay on the Green Bag site:

www.greenbag.org/Lubet%20Bullying%20from%20the%20Bench.pdf
7.12.2006 4:40pm
Steve Lubet (mail):
I wrote an essay about Judge Kent for the Green Bag, and the title gives my opinion: "Bullying from the Bench." The judge had plenty of ways to correct poor lawyering, but public ridicule was neither the best nor the most effective. It was a schoolyard tactic, and it isn't made more acceptable by the general inclination to laugh at the misfortune of others.

You can read my essay on the Green Bag site:

www.greenbag.org/Lubet%20Bullying%20from%20the%20Bench.pdf
7.12.2006 4:40pm
Steve P. (mail):
Excellent essay, Prof. Lubet.
7.12.2006 4:43pm
Waldensian (mail):
I know nothing about this judge. I have noticed in general, however, that many judges who go out of their way to heap abuse on lawyers are themselves rather lackluster jurists.
7.12.2006 4:44pm
alkali (mail) (www):
For what it is worth, I wholeheartedly recommend Prof. Lubet's extraordinary essay.
7.12.2006 4:46pm
Sammimo (mail):
The limp member (or "raglike penis") case is Lason v. State, 152 Fla. 440, 12 So.2d 305 (1943), but many people tend to overlook the fact that the most florid (and repulsive) language was the concoction of defense counsel. The court merely quoted it.

But bravo to the court (I'm being ironic) for the shout out to little Ruby Cawthon. I wonder if she was the 11-year-old or the 13-year-old.
7.12.2006 4:47pm
volokh groupie:
a couple points

Judge Kent is undoubtedly a funny writer, and there are several other opinions you may want to read if you thought this was funny: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/skent1.html
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/obiwan4.html
both are short, and well worth the read

It's unlikely that any of Judge Kent's comments could fall under violation of any type of ethical standard (i don't see how 'temperment' would apply)—but there has been criticism of Judge Kent's 'civility' in at least one law review article
http://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:jfpQytuMDH8J:
aja.ncsc.dni.us/courtrv/cr38-3/CR38-3Resource.pdf
the links broken up..not wasting time w/tags

with regards to Judge Kent's writings, the author of the critical law review article "notes that the zealous
advocacy upon which the legal system
depends may be tempered by a desire
to reduce the risk of public humilia-
tion from a judge who regularly
engages in such conduct."

So the question comes down to—lawyers are afraid of being publicly humiliated for piss poor work or frivolous requests.
Now I know this may not play well with the general readership of VC, but if you ask the average person (who's impression of a lawyer is unfortunately often a money grubbing, slick talking, two faced, frivolous lawsuit bringer) [a law review article citing public perception of lawyers in the movies and in general seems to butress this http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/
politicalscience/gillman/
look for the bad lawyers article

then perhaps a judge who chastises such ineptidude isn't such a bad thing (a karma type just desserts for lawyers)

either way—-if its humor in opinions you have a problem with—-that's been debated already in review articles

if you can't stand the fact your shotty work or argument might called upon in court—considerng the fact that it doesn't appear Judge Kent's opinions generally fall under any ethical violation—-i would guess he'd suggest you 'grow a pair'
7.12.2006 4:51pm
Erik R. (mail):
That and some other interesting opinions are available here:

http://www.lawhaha.com/strange.asp

Kent has a couple more near the bottom.
7.12.2006 4:53pm
Steve Lubet (mail):
Kent's opinion is only funny because it's coming from a judge. No one would laugh at it in a magazine, for example, because it doesn't carry through a humorous theme. Crayons, "laugh-in-the-face-of death," pig in a dress -- those are all lame jokes and they don't hang together. In other words, you laugh in shock, but not in delight.

And don't forget that the case was about a serious physical injury. I doubt that the plaintiff got a kick out of Judge Kent's zingers.

Humor has a place in judicial opinons, but there are a couple of requirements: (1) It has to be funny; and (2)it has to be fair.

(And before anyone ripostes that I lack a sense of humor, please check the NPR archives for my satiric commentaries on Morning Edition.)
7.12.2006 4:58pm
to lubet:
perhaps these tactics have precisely the intention to intimidate counsel trying bring up claims or requests with little chances of succeeding..doesn't that seem prudent in a single court district where one judge can have over 700 cases filed in his district (not to mention civil disputes)---the judicial system was not built as a bike with training wheels for lawyers hoping to cut their teeth by experimenting in litigation methods--to hurt one's feelings or to embarass them deservedly is something few should cry about

i also wonder about how ethical it is to challenge the judge's opinions and entire jurisprudence because you dislike the style of his response in several opinions...
7.12.2006 5:06pm
it seems:
that humor is obviously in the eye of the beholder.

as for the plaintiff in that case...what you will notice was conspicuously missing during the 'humorous' comments was any reference to the plaintiff..when it came to the judges order about the seriousness of the case, he did his job

in fact the only thing that Judge Kent seemed to comment upon was the lawyers' work, he notably didn't make any comment about the merits of the case.
7.12.2006 5:10pm
Waldensian (mail):

Excellent essay, Prof. Lubet.

Agreed, it was very thoughtful and well written.

Mean people suck, but mean judges are just the worst.
7.12.2006 5:13pm
lucia (mail) (www):
I think it's funny in an "OMG, I can't believe a judge wrote that!" kind of way. But honestly, I'm laughing at the judge not the attorneys. After all, I don't for a minute believe the attorneys submitted gravy stained pleadings written in crayon.

Surely, in the movie version, the judge would be the comic figure!
7.12.2006 5:14pm
Porkchop (mail):
Apodaca wrote:


Porkchop says


This is not, however, the best opinion ever -- that honor still has to go to the old "limp member" opinion from somewhere in the Southern Reporter (the first series)




Nope. That would be 12 So.2d 305, if I recall correctly.

I am sad to say that I knew this cite long before going to law school (or knowing how the citation system works), thanks to an old buddy who preceded me into the maw of legal practice.


Well, it has been over a quarter of a century since I read it, so I hope you will pardon my poor memory.
7.12.2006 5:29pm
CEB:
On a similar note, does anyone know what happened with the two lawyers who were ordered by the judge to resolve a dispute by playing rock-paper-scissors on the courthouse steps?
7.12.2006 5:29pm
Mark F. (mail):
The judge abused his position and authority. End of story.

And you wonder why people hate lawyers? Poor babies, can't take getting slapped down by a judge.
7.12.2006 5:34pm
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
So the question comes down to—lawyers are afraid of being publicly humiliated for piss poor work or frivolous requests.

No. It's just that it's a severe breach of professionalism by the judge. If the work was that bad, below the standards of minimal competence for the legal profession, I suspect the judge could have referred them to the bar for disciplinary proceedings, for breaching their duty to zealously and competently represent the clients. The courts, and we lawyers, do quite enough to bring shame on ourselves without committing premeditated breaches of the Canons and Model Code.
7.12.2006 5:50pm
tab (mail):
After spending the past six weeks interning for an appellate court and reading some gawd awful briefs, I have to say "BRAVO!" to Judge Kent. Sloppy work is worse than a mean judge IMHO.
7.12.2006 5:54pm
tab (mail):
After spending the past six weeks interning for an appellate court and reading some gawd awful briefs, I have to say "BRAVO!" to Judge Kent. Sloppy work is worse than a mean judge IMHO.
7.12.2006 5:54pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I don't see how we can "judge" Judge Kent for this opinion without reading the parties' pleadings. If they really were bad, and done with so little effort (as he implies), then I would say his opinion is fine. This would be the case of mocking lazy lawyers, for shoddy work. Architects, artists, and filmmakers, whose work is on public display, are subject to withering criticism all of the time.

I enjoyed the judge's punchy writing style and, as a former federal law clerk who was sometimes frustrated by sloppy lawyers, I can understand the urge to mock them.

On the other hand, I appreciate that the Judge is in a position of authority, and, like a CEO mocking or berating a subordinate, it can be a bit unfair to use that authority to attack someone who won't fight back. So, I guess it would depend on how bad the briefs were, and how little effort the lawyers put into them.
7.12.2006 5:59pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
So the question comes down to—lawyers are afraid of being publicly humiliated for piss poor work or frivolous requests.

Amen. Attorneys and judges cover entirely too much for each other, and the public is the loser.

If you don't want to be ridiculed, don't be ridiculous.
7.12.2006 6:02pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Another way of putting it: would the attorneys rather have been sanctioned?
7.12.2006 6:06pm
Steve Lubet (mail):
Here's a useful thought experiment: Would you think Kent's opinion was funny if one lawyer had written it about another? Of course not. You'd think it was infantile, and you'd be right.
7.12.2006 6:55pm
Bruce:
Steve, am I right in my vague recollection that Judge Kent got some sort of censure from the Chief Judge of the District for, e.g., the crayon remark? I recall reading that in, I think, Legal Times.
7.12.2006 7:11pm
Steve Lubet (mail):
There was another ascerbic Kent opinion, even nastier, that he was called upon to withdraw -- it was removed from both Lexis and Westlaw, but the Green Bag posted it:

www.greenbag.org/kent_scanned.pdf

I believe I recall that the Chief Judge called Kent on the carpet, but I don't know the details.
7.12.2006 7:18pm
some guest:

Another way of putting it: would the attorneys rather have been sanctioned?


If I were one of those lawyers, and the choice were between monetary sanctions and being publicly ridiculed by a federal judge in a written opinion that would be immortalized in the national reporter system, I would take monetary sanctions any day of the week.
7.12.2006 8:42pm
Eric Jablow (mail):

Who, exactly, would reprimand a federal judge? And how?

Today's Washington Post has an article on Cobell v. Kempthorne: At U.S. Urging, Court Throws Lamberth Off Indian Case. I guess the government's strategy of pissing the judge off until he snaps finally worked. I don't think anyone should be happy here. I certainly don't like it.
7.12.2006 10:11pm
JStory (mail):
As a practicing attorney, what I found most uncomfortable about the opinion was each attorneys' obligations to forward the opinion to their respective clients. For the loser, the decision could give rise to a claim for malpractice, depending on the facts and the law of course. For the winner, it was no doubt a Pyrrhic victory. What client wants to be represented by an attorney the judge deems to have written their memoranda on Red Chief tablets? From that real world perspective, its quite an unfortunate decision.
7.12.2006 11:00pm
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7.12.2006 11:32pm
elChato (mail):
If the judge had somehow made an obvious mistake in a ruling, could you write a motion for reconsideration saying it looked like something in crayon and smelled like a wet dog? I wonder if he would think it was so funny?
7.12.2006 11:44pm
vet (mail):
I applaud the judge. If substandard work was received from those who claim to be "professionals", I have no objection to the judge lambasting them. If you claim the mantle of "professional", you should darn well perform like one.
7.13.2006 12:02am
elChato (mail):
vet:

would this apply equally to the judge? If he had made a foolish error in an opinion, do you think it would be appropriate for a lawyer to file a motion for reconsideration that contained the same kinds of statements that Judge Kent's opinion did?

If so--- what do you think would happen to a lawyer who put such statements in a motion before Judge Kent?
7.13.2006 12:24am
Toby:
WHen I see (as a non-lawyer) the number of times a case is appealed because "counsel wofer the depnednet was incompetent", all I can thing is that if law was a real profession, any time that pleading worked, the original consel would be disbarred.

Allas, it never seems to happen.

Until that time, lawyers, who seem to be willing to disparage any decision made in any profession that they do not personally understand, when in one case it did not work out, whther it e medical practice or designing lawnmowers w/o considering whter people would trim hedges with them, should be willing to get a little abuse back, occassionally.

Case ruled for the Judge.
7.13.2006 12:50am
The Franchise (mail):
Toby: Perfect cap, my man.
7.13.2006 2:30am
Public_Defender (mail):
The judge fell into a trap that too many attorneys fall into--he focused on the lawyers instead of the issues.

Including a sentence or two criticizing bad lawyering is both fair and useful, but making bad lawyering a theme puts the lawyering above the issues. It also encourages lawyers to do the same in their briefs.

A smart judge can zing a bad lawyer in a sentence and move on. That's a skill Judge Kent clearly lacks.
7.13.2006 10:57am
John M:
I am a litigator and I see sub-par work product every day. On balance, I wish more judges were willing to criticize the performance of attorneys. Still, I don’t think that justifies the gratuitously nasty tone that the judge took in this matter. On substance, the criticisms were valid. If the briefs were poorly organized and failed to cite relevant precedent, by all means say so in pointed terms. I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying that the briefs were terribly written and of no value, that the attorneys failed to serve their clients, or even turning them over to state disciplinary authorities if the work product was that bad. Any attorney who cares a whit about his professional reputation would be plenty shamed by that, and if he isn’t, won’t be successful at acquiring and keeping clients. I have read plenty of reported opinions in which judges did that, and trust me, the effect is sobering.

What has made this brief famous, however, makes it less effective in my eyes. The only reason this brief is famous is because of the over the top, nasty, condescending, gratuitously insulting stuff about crayons and so forth. The judge could have done his job effectively without resorting to this tactic. Professor Lubet’s point is valid. An intemperate opinion like this casts doubt on the judge’s willingness to thoughtfully consider issues of first impression or novel legal arguments. In my experience, the nastiest judges are also the least competent. Vicious yet brilliant judges like Scalia and Easterbrook are the exception, not the rule. This judge, at least to my eye, was doing his job in pointing out the errors, but the tone of the opinion reads like a bully getting his kicks.

I realize many people don’t like attorneys or the legal profession, and I think that motivates some of the responses here. God knows many in my profession do much to bring it into disrepute. But there is simply no cause for anyone to treat anyone in this manner simply for the crime of incompetence. It’s no way to treat opposing counsel, a subordinate, a copy clerk, a legal assistant, or a grocery clerk.

One useful method I use to measure whether I am reacting proportionally to something is by asking myself, “if I found out tomorrow that person X’s mother died, or dog was put to sleep, or house burned down, or he lost his biggest client, would I still think the way I reacted was justifiable?” I don’t claim to do it perfectly, and I don’t mean to use it as an excuse for ignoring competence. No matter what the circumstances, poor legal work should be criticized by judges. But twisting the knife the way the judge did in this case is no way to behave in a civilized society when dealing with real people with emotions, problems, good days and bad days, etc. That he did it to people who have no way of responding is even more repugnant.
7.13.2006 11:08am
Informed Observer (mail):
As an attorney, I have to say that judges don't abuse lawyers enough, IMO. It would be better for the profession for more lawyers to get a good reaming for their misrepresentations of the law, omissions of authority, and abuse of procedure. As is often discussed with my fellow attorneys, there needs to be more use of sanctions, more fee shifting, and more realistic fee awards. Since judges don't seem to be willing to do that, I'll take the half-loaf of public humiliation.
7.13.2006 11:21am
Public_Defender (mail):
Professor Post writes:


Reprimanded?! Really?! They should've given him an award ... maybe we should start a Judge Samuel Kent Legal Writing Award here on the VC ...


Professor,

Do you teach your students to write like Judge Kent--focusing on the lawyering instead of the issues? If so, you are doing them and the profession a grave disservice.
7.13.2006 12:56pm
Steve P. (mail):
I guess the government's strategy of pissing the judge off until he snaps finally worked.


Unfortunately, yes, it did. To be fair, if you read the opinion, it's quite valid. The court agreed with many perjorative descriptions of the government that Lamberth used in his decisions, and spent quite a bit of time pointing out that it isn't wrong for a judge to have developed biases based on continued poor behavior on one side. However, it's clear he overstepped the broad judicial authority he was given, having been unanimously overturned eight times in a row (I believe), and spending ninety percent of his last decision in invective directed at the government.

Hopefully the next judge will be able to lambaste the DOI without going too crazy.
7.13.2006 1:34pm
Allen Garvin:
Oh, Kent, yeah. Here is my favorite Kent opinion, from SMITH v. COLONIAL PENN INSURANCE COMPANY:

http://raddial.com/stuff/texasjustice.txt
7.13.2006 1:42pm
Mr L (mail):
Do you teach your students to write like Judge Kent--focusing on the lawyering instead of the issues?

Uh, Kent's opinion more than adequately addressed the issues, specifically plaintiff's absurd misreading of the law (and nonexistent cite) without which there'd be no case.
7.13.2006 1:59pm
Steve P. (mail):
Allen -- that's a good one. Kent is much more interesting to read when he's pointing out holes in the arguments, versus when he's just unleashing vitriol against bumbling lawyers.
7.13.2006 2:11pm
Public_Defender (mail):

Uh, Kent's opinion more than adequately addressed the issues, specifically plaintiff's absurd misreading of the law (and nonexistent cite) without which there'd be no case.


Quick, without looking, explain the substantive decision of the case. Don't remember? That's because the opinion is memorable for the vitriol dripped on the lawyers rather than the legal points.

The same goes for briefing and motion practice. If your writing contains pithy attack after pithy attack against opposing counsel, the legal arguments you make in between will have less impact.

For my clients' sake, I'm usually happy when prosecutors take the time to attack me. They obscure their good points and allow me to gain credibility by focusing on the issues.

None of this excuses bad lawyering. And I agree that judges should do a better job at pointing out the bad work of many lawyers. But a good judge can do that in a single, well-written sentence. Judge Kent apparently lacks that skill.

When I see an opinion like the judge wrote in this case, I usually assume that the judge is an arrogant buffoon. I haven't read the lawyers' pleadings in this case, so I can't say how bad they were. At worst, they were negligent. You can't say that for the judge.
7.13.2006 2:58pm
BobDoyle (mail):
Say, off subject, but I've seen pifubing's postings in many comment threads throughout this site. Has anyone else wondered what's the story with these postings? If you click on the text anywhere within the posting it takes you to some kind of asian web site. (I do not know what type of asian web site since I cannot distinguish the characters from different asian languages.) Anyone have any explanations?
7.13.2006 2:59pm
Colin (mail):
Steve, Allen, I agree that the Colonial Penn order is much better. I think that's not just more interesting, but also funnier. Prof. Lubet's article makes the point that a lot of Kent's opinions really aren't that funny if you put aside the shock value of the author's context. Kent is much more amusing when he ties his humor to the subject matter, instead of trying to balance a vicious joke on poor, but not uncommonly poor, lawyering.
7.13.2006 4:11pm
The Original TS (mail):
Slightly off topic, I recall from law school reading several opinions from a state supreme court judge (maybe in Ohio) with a very colorful (mostly purple) style. One of the quotes I remember was something on the lines of "Contracts are not kamikaze planes in which the parties strap themselves in to their mutual destruction."

Does anybody have any clue as to who I'm talking about?
7.13.2006 4:37pm
Public_Defender (mail):
I just read Lubet's article. It's excellent. I'm even more convinced that Samuel Kent is someone who never should have been given a gavel and a robe. His best line:


By modeling intemperate behavior, Judge Kent merely invites more of the same from the lawyers in his court and beyond (given the Internet-driven notoriety of Kent opinions). As an old Yiddish saying puts it, a Fish rots
from the head.


Professor Post, do you think this is a good example of legal writing? Is this a model for your students?
7.13.2006 5:21pm
wooga:
The problem is that most lawyers don't respond to small monetary sanctions, and no bar association is going to do more than wag a finger at sloppy attorney writing.

I think the ridicule and scorn approach is the best way to discourage poor lawyer practice - particularly citing a 40 page opinion without a page reference or quote. That sort of laziness by a lawyer wastes the court's time, and means the court then has less time to devote to other matters - such as reading carefully crafted motions like mine. It takes just a few seconds for a judge to add a snarky line of text, but hours to wade through third rate lawyer drivel.

And if a lawyer gets his feelings hurt by the "crayon" remark, he shouldn't be a litigator.
7.13.2006 6:53pm
Public_Defender (mail):
And if a lawyer gets his feelings hurt by the "crayon" remark, he shouldn't be a litigator.

Agreed, but if a judge can't set an example of civility, he shouldn't be a judge.
7.13.2006 8:31pm
wooga:
I just wish that trial judges would read briefs carefully and follow the law.

Once we get past that distant hurdle, then I might start to care about whether a judge is sufficiently civil. Beggars can't be choosers...
7.13.2006 9:24pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
Pifubing means "skin diesase" in Chinese. The posts of this person are quite bizarre and describe a therapy for skin disease available in Beijing.
7.14.2006 5:03am
Public_Defender (mail):
I just wish that trial judges would read briefs carefully and follow the law.

Once we get past that distant hurdle, then I might start to care about whether a judge is sufficiently civil. Beggars can't be choosers...


Is it too much to ask of judges with jobs for life to read the briefs carefully, follow the law, and to act with civility?

Civility does not mean docility. The judge can and should criticize bad lawyering in a variety of ways.

Also, from a lawyer's point of view, the sting a judge's criticism is directly proportional to the judge's reputation for civility. A forceful rebuke from a known hothead will sting a lot less then an expression of disappointment from a judge with a reputation for being levelheaded. Guess which category Judge Kent is in.

What Judge Kent wrote was little more than a temper tantrum.
7.14.2006 4:23pm