At the December Civil Bench Bar, judicial law clerks/former law clerks shared some insider tips on how to improve court filings.
Judicial law clerks work closely with judges, provide assistance and research issues before the judge. They help judges wade through and manage the mountains of filings that come into a department and know first-hand what makes a good filing and where filings fall short. A panel of judicial law clerks including: Josephine Groh, Collin Jayne, Travis Chance and Daven Cameron compiled their Top Ten Things Judicial Law Clerks Want You to Know.
Late filings are high on the list of things law clerks advise against. The law clerks acknowledge that deadlines creep up and there is a lot going on; but, lawyers should know that judges brief in advance, sometimes as much as a week before a hearing. Filing the day before a hearing doesn’t allow adequate time to review content and generally doesn’t go over well. One former law clerk called late filings “incredibly burdensome.”
Law clerks advise that Order Shortening Time requests should be used very sparingly. There are guidelines that should be referenced. Presently, they are overused and bog down calendars. If it is a Despositive Motion and you’re asking for an Order Shortening Time, allow enough time for both sides to brief.
Good introductions are well appreciated by law clerks. A good introduction paragraph saves judicial departments time and are likely to result in better outcomes for those filing. A good introduction paragraph should clearly state what you are asking for and the arguments and essentially serve as a road-map for what the petitioner is seeking.
Good conclusions also get high marks from law clerks. Conclusions should be solid and summarize what type of relief the petitioner seeks in a clear and concise manner. Don’t leave it up to the judge to guess.
When it comes to courtesy copies, law clerks suggest that is wise to know what the department preferences are and follow that. Each department’s preferences can be found on the court website.
Law clerks advise to stay up on department reassignments. If a case has been reassigned, it should be reflected in your filings. Those who reference the wrong department in filings risk losing credibility.
When a judge requires something it is best to comply rather than use the argument: you’re the only department that requires this. It’s generally safe to say, this argument doesn’t help your case. Judicial preferences are on the website http://www.clarkcountycourts.us/departments/judicial/civil-criminal-divison/
Know what a department expects for trial exhibits, before trial. Know in advance what is needed and how exhibits should be presented. When in doubt, contact the court clerk in enough time to be ready for trial. Be sure to redact all personal identifying information that should not be made public including: social security numbers, bank account numbers, etc. Tabbed exhibit are especially well liked.
Proper punctuation is a good thing. Avoid overusing explanation points, bold text and italics. These overused formats don’t make your case more persuasive and may in fact negatively impact the perception of your work. Avoid personal attacks to opposing counsel. Such attacks are viewed unfavorably.
When writing a complaint, be concise and clear. Check templates to ensure they reflect changes in the law.
Some bonus topics were also covered by the law clerks. They advised that Motions in Limine are overused and frequently used improperly. They get a lot of requests to make the other side “follow the law.” Such requests are inappropriate and considered to waste time. A judge reminded those at the bench-bar that attorneys should follow EDCR 2.47 B . The rule requires that counsel personally confer on the issues, what can be resolved and what cannot, and the reasons therefore. If the rule isn’t followed and detailed in a declaration, some judges will vacate motions in limine.
The law clerks also reminded those at the bench-bar to be cognizant when speaking to law clerks that your communication is appropriate. Law clerks work on behalf of judges. Be careful not to engage in ex parte communication when speaking to a law clerk.
A presentation from the Nevada State Bar Association updated attendees on changes with continuing Legal Education (CLE). The Nevada Bar website has a complete list of changes that attorneys can review to ensure that they are compliant with CLE requirements.
Some important dates from the Nevada State Bar Association on continuing Legal Education (CLE):
1/15/18 CLE Board will notify attorneys that have yet to comply with the
Credit requirement for 2017 and provisionally assess a $100
2/15/18 Deadline to report credits (extended) and pay fees
On or about
3/1/18 CLE Board issues Notice of Noncompliance and assesses late fee
4/1/18Deadline to submit credits (late) and/or pay fees to avoid suspension
4/2/18 Non-compliant attorneys will be administratively CLE suspended
The January 9 Civil Bench Bar meeting at noon in courtroom 10D will include more valuable information for those practicing civil law and an open forum for questions and discussion. The meeting will also include chili cook-off.