Today’s West Headnote of the Day carries a useful lesson:
Conduct of Department of Justice attorney in scribbling in the margin of district judge’s opinion, submitted as appendix to Department’s brief, the word “WRONG” beside several findings of district judge was “indecorous and unprofessional conduct.” Allen v. Seidman, 881 F.2d 375 (1989).
My guess is that the attorney never intended for anyone outside the office to see those marginal notes. He or she probably wrote them while reviewing the district judge’s opinion, then put the opinion in the file. Later, someone copied the opinion—with marginal notes—for inclusion in the appendix, and no one ever eyeballed the appendix to catch embarrassments like this.
The lesson: Before selecting file materials to be copied for an appendix, inspect them to look for marginal notes, underlining, doodles, etc. If you find any, erase them or cover them up with white tape before photocopying.