I have written hundreds of appeals and I always try to avoid “flying off the handle” or being excessively flowery. Legal writers are always told – stick to the point.  Judges don’t want to have to read anything that wastes their time or goes off topic. I’ve been told many many times that I’m dead wrong on an argument – but never harshly.  Today the Exective Director of the Committee on Professional Conduct was soundly rebuked by the Supreme Court in a disbarment case:

“On a final note, we must address a matter raised in Walker’s reply brief. Walker contends that the brief submitted by Ligon shows a “clear personal bias” and is “replete with sarcasm and vituperation masquerading as legal argument.” Although we do not find any impermissible bias in this case, we agree with Walker that the Executive Director’s brief is unprofessional in tone and improper in some of its content. Ligon’s brief contains unnecessarily sarcastic remarks and, at one point, invites the court to look outside of the record to examine matters that were not before the special judge. This is improper argument.”


If the Supreme Court says that the Professional Conduct Committee Executive Director’s brief is “unprofessional in tone,” improper, and sarcastic, what kind of example does that set for the rest of us ?  Of course, now I’d like to see that brief and decide for myself whether it is in fact unprofessional – or just “flowery.”



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