3 Reasons to Check the Court Rules Before Filing that Document

Bad things can happen when you fail to proofread. For example, I previously wrote about surprisingly severe consequences that resulted from less-than-perfect legal filings. (See 3 Reasons to Proofread that Document One More Time). Little did I know how common these stories actually are. Apparently, the longing desire for better writing is a popular sentiment. Here are a few recent stories demonstrating the trend:

Double-Spacing Is for Suckers

Defense lawyers in the Blackwater case were put on notice that single-spaced documents just won’t cut it. Federal Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the attorneys, who had filed a memo in single-spaced type, to comply with the court’s typeface rules, which require that submissions be double-spaced in Times Roman or Courier font. Judge Urbina may have been more generous than necessary when he described counsel’s submission as “an apparent attempt to include more information . . . than would otherwise be permitted.” At the risk of being dubbed a cynic, I think Judge Urbina’s conclusion may be unavoidable. What else could explain such a failure to comply with the most basic of formatting rules-line spacing-in court documents? (via the ABA Journal)

The Case of the Harmful Staple

A motion for default judgment was denied due to the “negligent stapling” of the motion papers. In his order denying the plaintiff’s motion, New York Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Markey wrote, “[T]he poor stapling of the papers was so negligent as to inflict, and did inflict repeatedly, physical injury to the court personnel handling them. . . . Such negligence on the part of counsel shows a lack of consideration.” (via Law.com)

An Obvious Absence of Simplicity

In Nazir v. United Airlines, the parties submitted a whopping total of 5,415 pages in support of their positions on a motion for summary judgment. That’s right-more than 5,000 pieces of paper were submitted on a single motion. The motion was filed by the defendant, who sought to have the race-discrimination case dismissed before trial. Although the trial court granted the motion, the decision was overturned by a California appellate court. The decision on appeal makes sense, after all, because the standard for summary judgment-that there be no material fact genuinely in dispute-seems unlikely at best. After all, if there were no material facts at issue, what were they writing about in their novel-length briefs? It was, the court said, “a record the likes of which we have never seen.” (via Lowering The Bar)


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