May 06, 2004

Talk to the Pop-Up

by PG

After clicking on the Curmudgeonly Clerk's link to the Southern District Court of Texas, I was confronted with the following pop-up window:

The reasons most likely to get your pleadings stricken:
No averment of conference by movant (LR 7)
Not signed by, or by permission of, the attorney in charge (LR 11.3)
No certificate of service (LR 5.4)
No proposed Order (LR 7.1 & 7.4)
I'm not entirely sure why I find this so amusing; perhaps it is the David Letterman-esque wording. If Jeremy begins writing for a comedy show, I would expect a Top Ten list like this.

Perhaps it's just the awesome efficiency represented by this pop-up. Suppose that you're an angry plaintiff wondering what happened to your pleading, so you go online to find the phone number of the person responsible. Clicking on the Southern District's website, you find a pre-emptive answer: "Before you bother us, make sure you got all this stuff right, bucko."

The only problem is that the first possibility, at least, is rather difficult to understand. I know what all the words mean separately, but I wouldn't bet on my ability to guess correctly what they mean all together.

May 6, 2004 01:33 PM | TrackBack
Comments

The first reason refers to the "certificate of conference" required by Local Rule 7.1(D) of the Southern District of Texas:Except for motions under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b), (c), (e), or (f) and 56, [opposed motions must] contain an averment that:(1) The movant has conferred with the respondent and(2) Counsel cannot agree about the disposition of the motion.In a nutshell, it just means that counsel have to agree to disagree and indicate said disagreement in their motions before the court will consider them. The rule exists to prevent the court from wasting its time on matters that counsel might resolve for themselves if they will pick up a phone. Opposition and disagreement is just presumed where the referenced rule 12 and 56 motions are concerned.In practice, a certificate of conference is appended to a motion at the end on a separate piece of paper and generally says something along the lines of:Counsel for movants and counsel for respondents have personally conducted a good faith conference at which there was a substantive discussion of the relief sought herein and despite the parties' best efforts to resolve the dispute without court action, counsel have not been able to resolve those matters presented.Sign and date such an averment and you have a certificate of conference. Clear?

Posted by: The Curmudgeonly Clerk at May 6, 2004 02:43 PM

Yes, thanks. Why isn't this a standard practice instead of just a Local Rule? Seems kinda obvious: don't show up to court until you've tried to settle this without sucking up taxpayer money.

Posted by: PG at May 6, 2004 02:52 PM

I had exactly the same question. I rarely file non-dispositive motions without knowing for a fact that opposing counsel will oppose it.

Posted by: UCL at May 6, 2004 03:38 PM

I can imagine many instances where simply sitting in the same room with the other party would just be unacceptable.

Say, for instance, you're suing mob hitman for wrongful death of your murdered husband after he was set free on a technicality. Do we really expect the grieving wife to try and settle before showing up in court?

Posted by: centrist at May 8, 2004 04:10 PM

Do we really expect the grieving wife to try and settle before showing up in court?

Technically, it's counsel, i.e. the lawyers, who are expected to be in communication. Certainly the parties to the suit may be on such poor terms as to make being in the same room untenable, but their attornies are professionals and should be able to do so.

And yes, anyone who sues for monetary damages should try to make a settlement before going to court. If the widow wants $5 million, her attorney should bring that demand to the hitman's counsel. If the evidence against the hitman is likely to convince a jury to bring an even bigger verdict against him, he may well accede to the widow's demand, and save taxpayers the cost of a trial.

The civil system does not exist to make people feel better; it is there to resolve disputes that cannot be settled privately.

Posted by: PG at May 8, 2004 05:36 PM
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