The Honorable Randy Wilson, a District Judge out of Texas recently had an article in the Advocate juxtaposing two Motions to Compel.
In this motion, the movant gives a background of the dispute and then lists the specific Document categories sought. There are a total of 24 document requests at issue. The movant dutifully lists each request and then quotes the objection made by the respondent. After each request and objection, the movant then includes a paragraph why the requested information is relevant and why the documents should be produced. Many of the objections and arguments are identical and thus writing the motion involves considerable copying and pasting.
While this type of motion is technically correct, it’s not persuasive nor will it catch the judge’s attention. That’s because this format overwhelms the reader/judge. The judge is confronted with page after page of document requests and objections and argument with no effort to organize and group them. Even the most diligent judge will begin to glaze over after a few pages and instruct the lawyers to go work it out.
The second motion to compel this week was a pleasure to read because the movant made my job easy. It began essentially the same as the first; it identified the parties and gave a brief statement of facts of the case. However, rather than simply listing and reciting all the requests at issue, the movant lumped and categorized the requests in dispute by inserting this paragraph:
This Court needs to resolve two issues. First, is plaintiff entitled to see defendant’s financial records? This issue affects document request numbers 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, & 12 (attached as Ex. 1). These requests all involve various financial and tax records of defendant. While there are perhaps some potential individual issues among these requests concerning time and scope, the threshold issue remains: is plaintiff entitled to see defendant’s financial records.
Second, defendant has objected to producing any documents concerning communications with customers. This issue affects document request numbers 15-19 and 21 (attached as Ex. 2). Plaintiff contends that communications with customers are critical to defendant’s claims for damages in its counterclaim; defendant generally asserts that such communications are not relevant
Turning to the first issue, production of financial records, these documents are relevant for the following reasons…
The second one makes the Judge’s job easier. It provides an over all blueprint as to how the various requests and objections fit together. It provides the judge a roadmap so that he knows where the motion is going. Judge Wilson actually referred to the latter as “a pleasure to read.” Don’t just dutifully trudge through even a routine motion. Take the time to craft the things you write. Readers can tell the difference.
When was the last time you think a judge picked up a piece of your writing and said that it was a pleasure to read? Don’t you think that a judge might be a bit more inclined to grant your motion if it were?
Seen at Legal Writing Prof Blog.