This type of writing gives attorneys a bad name (and its downright annoying)

An Official in the Atchison County Courthouse in Atchison Kansas, Stands in the Building's Courtroom...06/1974

While researching a legal issue for a current case, I came across this sentence from a pleading filed a couple of years ago:

Defendant, through her latest counsel, who has not made an entry of appearance as required under Local Court Rules, caused to be filed her Motion Requesting Reconsideration and Clarification of the Intermediate Ruling Filed November 1, 2011 With Supporting Brief (Motion) on November 14, 2011.

This sentence stuck in my craw.  For multiple reasons, this type of writing is silly and it gives attorneys a bad name.  Let me recount a few of the reasons:

1.  Petty Sniping. The writer feels compelled to point out to the Judge that the other party has had more than one attorney. Okay. So what? It happens: sometimes the attorney-client relationship breaks down and change happens. It has nothing to do with the issues in the case. It is simply a petty, childish jab that I see all to often.

2.  Useless Facts included to make the other side look bad. The “Defendant through her latest counsel who has not made an entry of appearance as required under the Local Court Rules . . .” Is it technically correct that the counsel should have “made an entry of appearance”? Yes. Does it have anything to do with the merits of the case? Absolutely Not. The reference is included to make the other party and her attorney look bad. If the failure to make “an entry of appearance” is a serious enough issue to warrant attention, then take it up with court directly. If not . . . don’t mention it.

3.  Dense, difficult-to-decipher text. “cause to be filed” and “made an entry of appearance” combined with the name of document that is 121 characters long is simply to much. Please. Stop. Just write like you are speaking to another human being (the judge) and not the King or Queen in 15th-Century England.

Anyone else bothered by this type of thing?

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."