Love Pets…Pet Peeves Not So Much

By Judge Lisa A. Lowe, Knoxville

Most Americans have and love pets these days. Our pets have become beloved members of our families.

I’m no exception. My dog, George, is an eight-year-old English crème retriever (think golden retriever that’s white instead). We’ve always said that he was our therapy dog, and now he’s extended his services from our family to an assisted living facility. He’s a gem. So, pets, absolutely love them.

Pet peeves not so much. Although I’m generally a positive person, please indulge me in a “GET OFF MY LAWN” moment. Here are some pet peeves I’ve noticed lately.

Ignoring written discovery. Attorneys, you know that when you’ve been served with written discovery, your answers are due in thirty days. So, get them answered in thirty days. (Mind blown, rocket science, right?)

If you find that’s not possible, contact opposing counsel, agree on a deadline for your response, and submit an agreed order to the court. If you can’t reach an agreement, file a motion for an extension, before the thirty days have passed.

And, if you haven’t done the things above, and opposing counsel is forced to file a motion to compel, don’t not (yes, I know that’s a double negative) file a response giving the court an explanation.

Not reviewing the dispute certification notice before the mediator issues it. Mediating specialists prepare a dispute certification notice listing the issues in a case and send it to the parties before issuing it. The parties have the opportunity to submit additional issues. Because the court can only address certified issues, carefully review the proposed dispute certification notice, and submit additional issues if the mediator missed something (they’re human, y’all).

We’ve seen recently some motions and hearing requests that the court couldn’t address because certain issues weren’t certified. The parties have to return to mediation, and the mediator has to issue another dispute certification notice. That creates an unnecessary delay.

Using legalease and boilerplate citations. Back in the day, lawyers liked to use what my Dad would call “fifty cent words,” and the longer the case law citations, the better. But the majority of us wised up and realized that plain language and clear and concise writing is better.

Despite this movement and the sound support for it, some attorneys are still kickin’ it old school. In a recent brief, I had to flip through three pages of generic boilerplate case law citations to get to the party’s arguments.

Start with the issues, then discuss the pertinent facts and the on-point applicable case law that supports your position.

Ok I’m done…you can get back on my lawn again. And by all means, please bring your pets, because I love them.

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