Tips The District Court Clerk Won’t Tell You (But She Told Me)

0904112216231moleculemanpm1tpaWell, it wasn’t just one clerk, and she/they didn’t tell me, exactly. A friend with excellent connections at the USDC, Central District of California, Bankruptcy and Ninth Circuit courthouses polled clerks she knew about what tips they would give to lawyers practicing in those courts. Here are a handful of the tips she received:

From the District Court:

1. Avoid making frivolous or blanket evidentiary objections in motions for, or oppositions to, summary judgment. This is one instance where the “kitchen sink” approach will simply piss the clerk off, since she will have to research and decide upon the merit of every single objection, regardless how pointless. Give her a break!

2.  Be flexible at oral argument. If the judge issues a tentative, use that information to tailor your oral argument. Try to address issues the court may have missed or evidence in the record that may have been overlooked but support your position.

3.  Read and comply meticulously with local rules and the judge’s standing order. Standing orders will be either posted on the judge’s Procedures and Schedules webpage or will be issued and posted to the docket once the case is assigned.

4.  Stand whenever you speak to the judge. Speak at the lectern, unless the court givs you leave to do otherwise. (And, of course, we know never to traverse the well, don’t we?!?)

5.  Avoid overly broad protective orders. Make sure an issue is ripe for a protective order (i.e., your client knows for sure it will disclose confidential information). Provide specific information to the court describing the documents and an explanation of the harm that will result if not protected.

From the Ninth Circuit:

1.  Coordinate with opposing counsel in designating the record on appeal. Clerks find it annoying where there are lots of duplicate documents in the record. Save a tree!

2.  Answer the specific question posed by the justice at oral argument. Apparently, attorneys (like politicians) have an annoying habit of dodging or circumventing an uncomfortable question. Who knew?

3.  Don’t waste time reciting facts at oral argument. The justices spend a lot of time with the record and are typically very familiar with the facts. Get to the argument!

And from the Bankruptcy Court:

1.  Be sure to update form templates. Attorneys apparently use outdated forms and, sometimes, overturned law.

There. Now enjoy the holiday!

About Alex Craigie

I am an AV-Preeminent rated trial lawyer. My practice focuses on helping companies throughout Southern California resolve employment and business disputes. The words in this blog are mine alone, and do not reflect the views of the Dykema law firm or its clients. Also, these words are not intended to constitute legal advice, and reading or commenting on this blog does not create attorney-client relationship. Reach me at acraigie@dykema.com. View all posts by Alex Craigie

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