Judge Orders Lawyers to Attend Kindergarten Party–Gets Hammered by Boss

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks down in Austin, TX, peeved by the conduct of the lawyers in a pending case, chastised them for being “unable to practice law at the level of a first year law student” and ordering them to attend a kindergarten party at the courthouse. Here are the pertinent parts of his order:

You are invited to a kindergarten party … in Courtroom 2 of the United States Courthouse, … Austin, Texas.

The party will feature many exciting and informative lessons, including:

• How to telephone and communicate with a lawyer

• How to enter into reasonable agreements about deposition dates

• How to limit depositions to reasonable subject matter

• Why it is neither cute nor clever to attempt to quash a subpoena for technical failures of service when notice is reasonably given; and

• An advanced seminar on not wasting the time of a busy federal judge and his staff because you are unable to practice law at the level of a first year law student.

Invitation to this exclusive event is not RSVP. Please remember to bring a sack lunch! The United States Marshals have beds available if necessary, so you may wish to bring a toothbrush in case the party runs late.

This is the second time Judge Sparks has berated lawyers regarding their kindergarten skill-set.

Sparks’ boss, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones, was not amused by the “cute” order. Abovethelaw.com, via the Texas Lawyer, reported an email from Judge Jones to Judge Sparks that said in part:

It has not escaped my attention, or that of my colleagues or, I am told, nationally known blog sites that you have issued several ‘cute’ orders in the past few weeks. The order attached below is the most recent.

Frankly, this kind of rhetoric is not funny. In fact, it is so caustic, demeaning, and gratuitous that it casts more disrespect on the judiciary than on the now-besmirched reputation of the counsel. It suggests either that the judge is simply indulging himself at the expense of counsel or that he is fighting with counsel in what, as Judge Gee used to say, is surely not a fair contest. It suggests bias against counsel.

Guess we won’t be seeing any Sparks flying in Texas for a while.

— Order, Morris v. Coker, Case Nos. A-ll-MC-712-SS, A-ll-MC-713-SS, A-ll-MC-714-SS, A-ll-MC-7IS-SS, W.D. Tex., Aug. 26, 2011. Thanks to Professor Jodi Wilson, Douglas Giuliano, and others.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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