Atmospherics

Recently one of my opponents filed a motion asking for an extension of time to file a brief. The rules for the court in question require that such motions be filed far enough before the brief is due to give the court a chance to decide the motion before the original deadline. His brief was filed three days after the deadline for his brief, and so was itself untimely.

In your conduct before any court, you should always be punctual, polite, accurate, fair, and should follow the rules. And you should take particular care to display these virtues when you are asking the court to do something that reflects upon one of these virtues that you should possess.

For example, if you are asking to file a brief in excess of the page limits, do so as concisely as you can. Show the court by example that you don’t waste space in your briefing.

If you’re asking for more time, file your request on time, and in fact as early as possible.

If you’re asking for your opponent to be punished for abusive litigation practices, do so in as polite a fashion as you are capable.

If you are apologizing for some mistake in following the rules and asking to be excused from some penalty, go over your brief very carefully with the rules in front of you and make sure that it meets every one of them.

If you are going to accuse your opponent of misstating the holding of some case, make sure your brief doesn’t do the same.

All of your briefs should always exhibit all of these virtues, of course. But if you sometimes slip, make sure you don’t do so when the error will undermine the very thing you are trying to convince the judge of.

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