Thursday, July 13, 2006

Who Dares Criticize Our Judiciary ???!???! Letting The Lawyers Have It, Wet Dog and allVol. I

I am so damned torn. There is a published decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas that I want to publish here -- whole cloth. It is a beautiful study in self-control, but an unwillingness to let something pass unnoticed.* You can find the full decision for free here, and it's also published on someone's bloghere [I guess it's fair use to violate West's copyright that way. . .].

Anyway, I'll just share a few items to give you a flavour:


Plaintiff John W. Bradshaw claims [legal blah blah blah]

* * *

Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact — complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words — to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions.

With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins.


* * *


Defendant begins the descent into Alice's Wonderland by submitting a Motion that relies upon only one legal authority. The Motion cites a Fifth Circuit case which stands for the whopping proposition that a federal court sitting in Texas applies the Texas statutes of limitations to certain state and federal law claims. That is all well and good — the Court is quite fond of the Erie doctrine; indeed there is talk of little else around both the Canal and this Court's water cooler. Defendant, however, does not even cite to Erie, but to a mere successor case, and further fails to even begin to analyze why the Court should approach the shores of Erie.

Finally, Defendant does not even provide a cite to its desired Texas limitation statute. A more bumbling approach is difficult to conceive — but wait folks. There's More!

* * *

Plaintiff responds to this deft, yet minimalist analytical wizardry with an equally gossamer wisp of an argument, although Plaintiff does at least cite the federal limitations provision applicable to maritime tort claims.

* * *

Plaintiff's citation, however, points to a nonexistent Volume "1886" of the Federal Reporter Third Edition and neglects to provide a pinpoint citation for what, after being located, turned out to be a forty-page decision. . . . (What the ..)?!

The Court cannot even begin to comprehend why this case was selected for reference. It is almost as if Plaintiff's counsel chose the opinion by throwing long range darts at the Federal Reporter (remarkably enough hitting a nonexistent volume!).

* * *

Now, alas, the Court must return to grownup land. As vaguely alluded to by the parties, the issue in this case turns upon which law — state or maritime — applies to each of Plaintiff's potential claims versus Defendant Phillips. And despite Plaintiff's and Defendant's joint, heroic efforts to obscure it, the answer to this question is readily ascertained.

* * *

After this remarkably long walk on a short legal pier, having received no useful guidance whatever from either party, the Court has endeavored, primarily based upon its affection for both counsel, but also out of its own sense of morbid curiosity, to resolve what it perceived to be the legal issue presented. Despite the waste of perfectly good crayon seen in both parties' briefing (and the inexplicable odor of wet dog emanating from such) the Court believes it has satisfactorily resolved this matter. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

At this juncture, Plaintiff retains, albeit seemingly to his befuddlement and/or consternation, a maritime law cause of action versus his alleged Jones Act employer, Defendant Unity Marine Corporation, Inc. However, it is well known around these parts that Unity Marine's lawyer is equally likable and has been writing crisply in ink since the second grade. Some old-timers even spin yarns of an ability to type. The Court cannot speak to the veracity of such loose talk, but out of caution, the Court suggests that Plaintiff's lovable counsel had best upgrade to a nice shiny No. 2 pencil or at least sharpen what's left of the stubs of his crayons for what remains of this heart-stopping, spine-tingling action.

In either case, the Court cautions Plaintiff's counsel not to run with a sharpened writing utensil in hand — he could put his eye out.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

DONE this 26th day of June, 2001, at Galveston, Texas.

SAMUEL B. KENT
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE




I believe my respect for judges has, if ever lost, been utterly restored. . .






*That would be a "willingness to notice."

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home