Florida Judge Tosses Improperly Spaced Court Filing, by George Khoury, Esq., Strategist, The Findlaw Law Firm Business Blog (with hat tip to William P. Statsky)
Mr. Khoury says that “[h]ell hath no fury like a Florida judge who receives an improperly formatted brief.” You better believe it. Why on earth would you ignore the format requirements in your court’s local rules? Folks, this just isn’t that hard.
The author of this motion for summary judgment thought the court would either ignore or not notice that the motion and supporting brief were spaced 1-1/2 lines rather than double-spaced. And who’s going to notice longer-than-usual footnotes? Really? Any judge or clerk whose job it is to read, read, and then read some more every dad-gum day.
Seriously, do you want to plow through heavy footnotes? Hands? Didn’t think so. Neither does your judge. Why risk alienating the person you are trying to convince? The stakes are too high to cling to a style of writing that sets you up to lose before anyone reads your motion or brief.
There are other, and much more effective ways, to trim a motion and brief. Editing is the key.
- Eliminate any unnecessary word.
- Remember that subject and verbs go together.
- Use short sentences.
- Delete all legalese. Yes, all of it. No excuses.
- You can always delete “in order.” Try it – it will not change the meaning in your sentence. These are an example of filler words that just take up space.
- Stop using phrases such as “brief of the plaintiff.” Write “plaintiff’s brief” instead.
- Never, never, never use long block quotations.
- Quote from a court opinion only when the court says it better than you can.
A quick search of this blog will give you tons of editing tips. I promise that you can get your point across with fewer words. It is not the number of words you use that count; it is what words you choose and how you say it. -CCE
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