The Lawletter Vol 46 No 3
As most seasoned practitioners are all too aware, it is often more time- consuming and frustrating to litigate a case against an incompetent pro se party or opposing counsel than it is to oppose a good lawyer. A litigant who is sloppy, mentally unwell, or who has very little understanding of the law can simply invent fictions faster than a competent and ethical attorney can refute them. Luckily, such a litigant often reveals his or her incompetence immediately through his or her pleadings. The best way to limit wasted time is usually to attempt to dispose of as much of the case as possible “on the papers.” Dismissal is, of course, the ideal result, but even if dismissal is not possible, it is still better to force the opponent to proceed on “cleaned up” and comprehensible pleadings without irrelevant statements or unsupportable claims.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure specify requirements for the form and content of pleadings and motions, as well as mechanisms to force opposing counsel to adhere to those specifications or suffer penalties for failing to do so. Most states have some version of these procedural tools, and many have adopted rules close or identical to the Federal Rules.Read More