Sua Sponte: A Judge Comments

Vol. 40 No. 1

The author is a senior district judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He wishes to thank his clerk, Chad Cooper, for assistance with this article.

Motions come in, accompanied by briefs. Responses come in. Replies come in. Occasionally, surreplies come in. Opinions go out. The cycle continues. Even in this age of electronic filing, the paper mountain that Frank Sommers and Rob Bunzel alluded to can be a virtually unscalable Everest to a busy judge. Add to that the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pages of exhibits included with the briefs and busy judges may simply turn off their computers. Too often, lawyers include with their briefs every paper exchanged in discovery and every utterance captured during depositions.

The briefs most helpful to me and my clerks in climbing the paper mountain include concise and well-reasoned legal arguments and guide me through the facts in a well-organized and thoughtful manner. Few things are more distracting than constantly flipping from a brief to portions of the record. So I would welcome any technique that will make it easier for me to parse the record.

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