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Little Things that Bug Judges

Whether in books, articles, speeches, or interviews, judges never hesitate to tell us what bothers them about the motions and briefs they read.

From local trial judges to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the gripes are consistent. But are we listening? In almost every brief I review, I catch something that drives judges crazy.

Here are some of judges’ most common complaints:

  • Briefs that reach the page or word limit
  • Lawyers who put text into footnotes to meet page limits
  • The word clearly
  • The word egregious
  • The phrase pursuant to
  • Supra and infra
  • Self-evident shorthand: “International Business Machines, Inc. (hereinafter, ‘IBM’)”
  • Parenthetical numbers: “There are three (3) parties”
  • Bold text
  • Underlining
  • Small font
  • Footnotes used to take potshots at opponents
  • Name-calling
  • Referring to parties by procedural status (“cross-appellant”)
  • Dates that don’t matter

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