Have Judges Finally Had Enough of Verbosity?

by Matthew Salzwedel on November 15, 2012

birdWith thoughtful, careful revising, and a little humility, lawyers can cut pages of verbosity and fluff from their legal briefs. Judges have always known that, and have always told lawyers to do it. Yet lawyers, self-righteous and self-indulgent to a tee, don’t listen.

It seems, though, that at least one federal judge has had enough.

In August, U.S. District Court Judge Steven D. Merryday denied a party’s request for leave to file a motion that exceeded the court’s 25-page limit.

Annoyed that he had to even consider the request, Judge Merryday revised part of what the lawyers proposed to file to show why the lawyers didn’t need the extra pages

As the Legal Writing Prof Blog points out:

By eliminating “redundancy, verbosity, and legalism,” the judge reduced one of the lawyer’s passages from approximately 125 words to 47 words. He then suggested that the lawyer apply the same technique to comply with the page limit.

Here’s Judge Merryday’s order denying the motion and citing Bryan Garner’s The Elements of Legal Style as his authority.

Will this begin a trend? Sometimes public shame is a powerful motivator.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mythoto/5067114440/)

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