In recent years, court opinions have chastised counsel’s briefs or other written submissions for such structural deficiencies as improper citations; missing exhibit labels; incomplete tables of citations; mis-numbered counts; failure to cite to the record; and skirting of court rules that regulate font size, maximum page limits, mandated margins, and the like. Beyond structure, opinions have also chastised counsel for written submissions that are “riddled with misspellings, typographical errors, punctuation errors, and grammar and usage errors” and for those marked by careless cutting-and-pasting from forms or other prior work product, or by careless reliance on spell-check.
Some opinions identify the offending counsel by name; other opinions identify the offender only as “plaintiff ’s counsel” or by some similar label, leaving it to the opinion’s present or future readers to determine identity easily from the roster of participating lawyers atop the opinion. One way or another, having work product arouse public judicial criticism, likely accompanied by one or more pejoratives, can stain counsel’s reputation. Arousal can also carry adverse consequences such as the prospect of professional discipline that McDade and other decisions have recited, or the prospect of court imposed sanctions.
Douglas E. Abrams,
Mincing No Words: When the Court's Opinion Criticizes an Advocate's Writing, 76 Journal of the Missouri Bar 77
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/facpubs/1021