Proofreading tips
Contraction reaction

More is not always better

Sometimes in the heat of battle, litigators can lose perspective. That seems to have been the court’s impression in TK-7 v. Estate of Barbouti, 993 F.2d 722 (10th Cir. 1993), an apparently hard-fought civil conspiracy case. The defendants prevailed, but the district court declined to award them their court costs, ordering instead that each side bear its own costs. Why? It seems that the paper war got out of hand, so the district court decreed a pox on both sides’ houses:

The Court feels compelled to note that as was the case prior to trial, there has been, after trial, an inundation of a steady stream of motions seeking some form of relief ... [a total of twenty post trial motions and responses]. Virtually any relief, fee, or sanction that could be requested has been, and a response or objection to it has been filed. The sheer volume of the pleading in this case is evidence of the hostility between these parties. [footnote omitted] The hostility is so great that the Court believes it is clouding counsels’ judgment and good sense. Discretion and reason would seem to call for tempering the tone of the requests, if not their number. The attitude of counsel has “fomented litigation” and protracted this case. All counsel are equally guilty of this conduct, and none stands before the Court with clean hands.

Id. at 735–36 (bracketed material by Court of Appeals). Evidently the volume and tone of the paper filed in this case made an impression, but it wasn’t the desired impression.

So next time you find yourself driven to file, say, an emergency opposition to your opponent’s motion for leave file a surreply, stop. Take a deep breath. Count to ten. And think about whether reflexively firing back may do your client more harm than good.



I just wanted to say thank you for all the great writing tips you make on your blog. I wish I could get more people to read what you write. Bad writing in law is, to me, like fingernails on a chalk board. I am amazed at how many bad writers there are working in the legal industry. Many Professors have told me that part of the reason so many students do not get good grades is due to their poor writing habits. I completely agree. The sad part is I think this says something about the way high school teachers are failing our kids in the area of composition. I have seen many students at the high school level seemingly forget the lessons taught them in elementary school about sentence structure. I feel that sentence structure learning is something that needs to be taught on a continual basis throughout grade school then continued, on a personal level, after high school and into college. Your blogs, and the writing tips you offer within, are truly a help and should be emphasized. I can see them being a great reference for Professors who want students to understand the importance of how good writing skills is essential, but I am sure many Professors are already using your blog as a writing guide. I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to do these blogs.

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