Always read the local rules. Not some of the time, or hell, even most of the time — all of the time. If you don’t, well, you just might bear the brunt of a judge’s wrath — or worse, at least to my Catholic guilt-riddled mind, his disappointment.
This benchslap comes to Above the Law from Saskatchewan, Canada. But the ire of The Hon. Mr. Justice R.W. Danyliuk should be instantly recognizable to anyone who has practiced law. It seems a draft consent order was filed in Judge Danyliuk’s court, but without the proper notice and/or application form that is supposed to accompany it. As the judge begins:
I think this is an application. I’m not sure. I think I’m supposed to rule on it. But I cannot be sure of that either. Confused, counsel? Me too. Here’s why.
That’s not a great look. As the judge laments the lack of proper application form, he launches into a history lesson — and you just know it’s about to get worse:
We have Rules of Court. We have had them for decades. The current iteration came into effect in July 2013. Prior to that. the previous Rules came out in 1981, and ere amended from time to tome until the wholesale rule revision occurred over eight years ago.
If I wanted the Court to be sure there was an application before it, and wanted an actual ruling on an application, as an enterprising and experienced lawyer I would check those Rules of Court if I didn’t know them already. Oh, I’d check ‘em good and proper, by gum I would.
That cutesy, old-timey language masks barely concealed rage. And since the judge so helpfully explained to the lawyers what he would do, if he were in their shoes, he also — again helpfully — explains what not to do (which is obviously exactly what they did):
Here’s what I wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t just file a consent order, all orphaned; no application, no affidavit, not so much as a cover letter. I wouldn’t treat my application as a legal stick flung, for a judicial dog to chase, catch, chew on, and figure out. The fact that it is a consent stick does not mean the stick should just be flung at this Court in any event.
As a good lawyer I would, at the very least, do a Form 6-4 application. The Court canteen rule on such an application. The Court cannot properly rule on a document carelessly flung in its general direction, with one of the lawyers yelling “Fetch, Judgey! Get it boy!!!”. The Court will not rule on such a thing even if it could properly do so.
Please don’t treat your judge like a dog. That is all.
And though, because of the lack of proper application form or accompanying affidavit, the judge doesn’t technically know which party filed the draft consent order, he has a sneaking suspicion who was the culprit — and he isn’t happy about it.
Yet I don’t think it could possibly be [filed by] Mr. Green, because I know he had an absolutely EXCELLENT instruction in civil procedure when he was a law student at the university. So I just don’t know for sure who filed this. You know how I would know? If an application was filed! That would tell me! Yeah, that’s it!!!!!
This is where I note that Danyliuk has taught civil procedure at the University of Saskatchewan. So, it seems he takes this shoddy legal work personally. And yeah, he definitely calls the legal work in this case shoddy.
I really hope this is your shoddiest work. If we haven’t hit bottom yet, I despair.
And just because why not get in a parting shot, he ends with this:
I’m not angry, I’m just really disappointed.
You can read the full hilarious, yet brutal, ruling below.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).