Judge Gerald Lebovits has a monthly column called "The Legal Writer" featured in the Journal, a publication of the New York State Bar Association.
In this month's issue (Vol. 79, No. 1), Judge Lebovits addresses "Ethical Judicial Writing" and examines a bankruptcy court decision we've scrutinized in a prior blog post. [See, "This Is Incomprehensible," by clicking on the following link: http://www.nyrealestatelawblog.com/2006/11/this_is_incomprehensible_1.html#000375 ]
Interestingly, Judge Lebovits echoed many of the sentiments expressed in our piece and we thought you might find his analysis of that twisted decision of interest. Here are his observations:
One bankruptcy judge from Texas used humor to deny a defendant's motion as incomprehensible. The judge compared the defendant and his motion "to Adam Sandler's title character in the movie 'Billy Madison,' after Billy Madison had responded to a question with answer that sounded superficially reasonable lacked any substance." Billy Madison, like the defendant in this case, was berated for his stupidity:
[W]hat you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Judges are different from everyone else in a courtroom. They should decipher rambling, irrational, incoherent thoughts. They should unearth the buried argument, comprehend the incomprehensible, clarify the opaque. They shouldn't give up easily on a litigant who sounds like Billy Madison. Judges who act disrespectfully to lawyers and litigants will in turn be treated disrespectfully.
Kudos to Judge Lebovits for getting it right! (Unfortunately, a few too many of his colleagues neither strive to achieve these fundamental goals nor accord litigants--or their counsel--the "respect" and "dignity" they rightfully deserve.)
To download a copy of Judge Lebovits's article, please click on the following link: http://www.nyrealestatelawblog.com/blog~legal%20writer.pdf