Judicial Pet Peeves

On occasion I attend various meetings where judges are asked to list their pet peeves.  I attended one such meeting this week, which also included JEA pet peeves.  For your benefit, I have replicated them, with minor editing for clarity, below.  My own comments are in italics.  I hope this helps you smooth your practice.

Judges’ Pet Peeves

  1. Impolite/uncivil attorneys (including those who interrupt)
  2. Attorneys’ lack of preparation
  3. Putting exhibit on ELMO (monitor) and showing to jury without prior motion to admit and/or publish.
  4. Asking prospective jurors voir dire questions based upon hypothetical, which seeks to have them commit to verdict in violation of EDCR 7.70(c).
  5. Cutting side deals for extensions of time and not telling the judge.
  6. Filing oppositions and replies at the last minute and expecting the judge to read them before oral argument
  7. In departments which do not use CourtCall, requesting a telephonic appearance but not providing a direct number for the attorney.  That is, the telephone number is directed to the attorney’s receptionist, who forwards the judge’s call to the attorney’s secretary, who forward the call to the attorney, or worse, his voicemail and says he is unavailable.  My only comment is that, in several firms including my own, each attorney does not have a direct dial number.  A good receptionist, however, knows how to handle this call efficiently.
  8. Failure to timely provide courtesy copies with tabs for exhibits.
  9. Failure to comply with NRCP 56(c) (statement of unconstested material facts with supporting citations to evidence in the record) and Choy v. Ameristar re affidavit requirement to support NRCP 56(f) request.

JEA Pet Peeves.

  1. Calling the day before a hearing and requesting the motion be continued or vacated.  See EDCR 2.22.
  2. Calling the JEA to verify a hearing is taking place when the information is publicly available in Odyssey.  The court’s calendar is run on Odyssey.  If it is on Odyssey, it is on the court’s calendar.
  3. Calling within hours of the submission of a proposed order to see if it has been signed yet.
  4. JEAs keep logs of incoming and outgoing proposed orders.  You do the math as to why this made the list.
  5. Calling to check on the status of an order that has already been filed.
  6. Calling to request copies of documents so the party does not have to pay to obtain them.  Really?
  7. Faxing courtesy copies of documents.  Per EDCR 2.20(g), courtesy copies are to be delivered, not faxed, at least five days before the hearing.
  8. Calling the department with a question about a specific case, but not having the case number available.
  9. Calling ahead to advise the court an order will be dropped off.
  10. For departments 1-14, not knowing whether you are in Justice Court or District Court.
  11. Putting a note on proposed orders requesting a call when signed so the order can be picked up, but then not providing the name or number of who should be called.
  12. After identifying ourselves to the receptionist and the person with whom we wish to speak, then being asked to identify the case it concerns and why we’re calling.  This is doubled when the process is repeated with an assistant.  I disagree with this one to a certain extent.  The reason receptionists or assistants may ask for the case name or number is because, in certain firms, multiple attorneys may be handling various aspects of the case.  In order to direct the court to the appropriate attorney, it is necessary to know the problem at issue.  It is even possible that, if the attorney is unavailable, another staff member could help resolve the problem.  All of this information helps route the call to the appropriate person who might be able to answer the question or resolve the pending problem.  From personal experience, I can understand, however, how frustrating this is to repeat the same information multiple times.
  13. Runners not looking thoroughly through the pick-up box, then calling the department indicating it’s not there when, in fact, it is.  This was actually a topic I raised at the meeting.  The drop-boxes are in public areas.  The courthouse is a public building.  Literally anyone can walk into the building and pick up the documents sitting in the attorney folders.  It also assumes the documents are placed in the correct law firm’s folders.  I suspect I am not the only one who has experienced important orders simply disappearing from those drop boxes for reasons that can never be explained.  In discussing this at the meeting, I believe agreement exists there is too much risk of error in the present system using attorney-folders.  I am hopeful someday this will be changed to something like what the more reliable federal e-filing system.
  14. Runners not knowing Roman numerals.  I do not use Roman numerals on my documents.  It is a very simple solution.