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5 Annoying Things Courts Need to Stop Doing

By Mark Wilson, Esq. | Last updated on

Courts move slowly, as Chief Justice Roberts noted in his State of the Federal Judiciary Report earlier this year. Yes, he knows that the Court needs electronic filing and video recording, but for vague or unspecified reasons, they're just not ready for that yet.

Now that we think about it, all courts at every level have weird anachronisms that shouldn't exist anymore, or practices that just plain don't make sense. We've assembled a list of five things courts need to stop doing in the year 2015. This is the year of the Hoverboard, after all!

1. Pleading Paper.

Once upon a time, pleading paper had a purpose: When court documents were typewritten, pre-printed pleading paper was used to cite to specific line numbers. We don't use typewriters anymore, so pleading paper largely has no purpose. When was the last time you cited to a line number, anyway?

2. Monospace Fonts.

Fonts like Courier are designed to mimic typewriters, but of course we don't use typewriters anymore (see No. 1). Some courts, though, still require the use of monospace fonts in filed documents. The only conceivable reason for this would be to estimate words per page, but that also doesn't make sense now that most courts have word count limits, not page limits.

3. Printed Briefs.

Before the First District Court of Appeal in California went to electronic filing, attorneys had to mail five copies of a brief to the court. Now, we just e-file, and life is a whole lot better. Printing briefs wastes resources, as well as time and money (to say nothing of the rainbow of colored covers each type of documents requires). Courts need to move to electronic filing as of yesterday.

4. Esoteric Local Rules.

At every law firm, some poor intern is tasked with keeping up with the peculiar rules of every single judge in the jurisdiction. Yes, each individual judge has his or her own particular requirements, styled as "local rules," that cover everything from the form of filed documents to whether attorneys can call in to make an appearance. These rules either need to be centrally located and easy to find, or eliminated altogether in favor of unified rules for each court branch and not just each individual judge.

5. Oral Arguments.

This one is controversial, but at least one Supreme Court justice thinks oral arguments are a waste of time. This applies in state court and in trial court law and motion practice.

In some courts, you're not allowed to make claims in your oral arguments that aren't in the brief. So what's the point? The court knows everything it needs to in order to make a ruling. Oral arguments are a vestige of making lawyers feel important because they're elocuting in a court room like in Ye Olden Times, but they're usually not necessary in the 21st century.

What court practices drive you crazy? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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