The Rockin’ Rules of the Eleventh District Court By Judge Mark Davidson
1. The Jagger Doctrine of Discovery “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”
Any discovery request that asks for more than what you need will be presumed to be asked solely for purposes of harassment. Don’t ask for the sun, the moon and the stars, when all you need is the moon and a few stars. Discovery requests that begin with “Any and all documents that…” are viewed with suspicion. Here is what Mick is telling us:
2. Henley’s Imperative of Advocatorial Candor You just can’t hide behind those lyin’ eyes. The Eagles.
If you break this rule even once, you will end up asking every judge the question first sung by the King of Rock and Roll… Why can’t you see… What you’re doing to me…. When you don’t believe a word I say? Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds
3. Charles’ Advice to Prevaricators and the Careless If you are consistently “careless” in your statements to judges, move out of the county. If you get caught lying to a judge, change professions. Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more…
4. The Temptations’ Advisory against unnecessary recusals “I know you want to leave me, but I refuse to let you go.”
Holly’s ruling on recusals - “That’ll be the day, when you say goodbye!” Sonny and Cher's refrain “I got you babe.”
5. Carpenter’s rule on post- defeat behavior “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” Mary Chapin Carpenter If you lack the patience to wait your turn to be a windshield, remember:
Cougar’s Post-hearing Philosophy No case is worth more than a momentary temper tantrum. Handling a loss well can help your reputation. Hey, Life Goes On…
6. Poison’s Rule of Post- Victory Behavior Every rose has its thorn.
The Thorns of Victory You have to prepare an order reflecting the victory you just won. You have to get the judge to sign it. You can’t run back to your office, prepare an order, and then messenger the order to me. I will not sign it. Don’t trash talk to your defeated adversary. This isn’t the NBA!
7. Everly Brothers Imperative of Punctuality Wake up, Little Susie! Wake up! Ignoring this rule will force me to ask :
7a. Chicago’s Interrogatory Concerning Punctuality Does anybody know what time it is? Does anybody really care?
8. Dire Straits’ Imperative of Case Economy Don’t take unneeded depositions. Endless paper discovery wars are pointless. Don’t bill time just to make partner.
They get you “money for nothing and checks for free” The middle class has been priced out of the litigation system. The system of justice is becoming increasingly irrelevant to most citizens. The juror turnout rate is down to 21%!!!!
9. Brooks’s Alternative to Precipitous Advocacy NEVER ask for something you are not absolutely, positively certain that you really want! Following this rule will result in you thanking :
The God of Unanswered Prayers “ Just because he doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean that he’s not listening.” Garth Brooks
10. Newton-John’s Queries on Behavior During Hearings No matter how much you may disagree with your adversary, grunts, groans, rolling eyes and chuckles are not an effective advocacy tool! Bringing lawyers to a hearing whose sole job is to nod while you are speaking is a waste of their time and your client’s money. Have you never been mellow? Have you ever tried to find a comfort from inside you?
12. Wynette’s Inquiry Concerning Frivolous Motions for Rehearing. “What part of NO is it that you don’t understand?”
13. The Beatles’s Warning Against Appellate Incompetence. Don’t let me down!
14. No Doubt’s Warning Against Excessive Advocacy. Don’t speak. I know just what you’re saying. I know just what you’re thinking. Don’t tell me ‘cause it hurts. (you)
15. Rogers’s Rule on Pre- victory Behavior. Know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run. OR Put another way…
When the Judge is about to rule for you, nothing you say can possibly help!
16. Wilson’s rule of Courthouse Staff Relations. Help me Rhonda! Treat the Court’s staff with the respect that, as professionals, they deserve. If you do, they will help you when you need help. If you are inclined to do otherwise, please consider:
A few things about the court’s staff you are really dense if you haven’t figured out: The clerks can look for (or not find the time to find) your response to your adversary’s motion for summary judgment. The court reporter can honestly make you look like a blithering idiot on the appellate record. The bailiff has contact with your jury throughout the trial.
17. Orbison’s Law of Court Administration Judges, Clerks and Coordinators are public servants We are here to help, within the law. Anything you want, you got it, Anything you need, you got it, Anything at all, you got it…. Roy Orbison – You got it
18. Milli Vanilli’s Responsibility Avoidance Technique Blame it on the rain. Blame it on the stars. Whatever you do, Don’t put the blame on you!
19. Fuller Four’s Warning Against Overly Inventive Pleadings. I fought the law… And the law won.
Following this rule will help you avoid : 19a. THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL’S DILEMMA ON ELECTION OF REMEDIES Did you ever have to make up your mind? Pick up on one and leave the other behind. It’s not often easy, and not often kind. Did you ever have to make up your mind?
20. Police’s Warning on Juries’ Observations Every breath you take Every move you make Every bond you break Every step you take I’ll be watching you. Sting and the Police Every Breath you Take
JURORS WATCH EVERYTHING Unlike the appellate record, juries record how you and your clients behave at all times. Non-verbal actions matter. Lavish shows of wealth (i.e., catered lunches, limousine service, seventeen lawyers on one side) have an effect on them. They expect you to share the same sacrifices of a trial they are experiencing. All of your behavior, in and out of the courtroom, affects how they view you and your client.
21. ZZ Top’s Advisory on Courthouse Dress Every Jury’s Crazy about a sharp dressed lawyer.
22. Neville’s Requirement of Responsive Answers Tell it like it is… I’m not someone to play with.
23. Franklin’s Doctrine of Jury Relations R E S P E C T
Here’s what Aretha and every jury is telling you: What you want, Baby I’ve got it. What you need, Baby I have it. All I’m asking for is a little respect from you. PUT ANOTHER WAY:
Don’t insult a jury’s collective intelligence! Repeating things twice is at least one time too many. Lengthy individual voir dire of every member of a jury panel wastes the time of everyone you aren’t talking to. Try to minimize the inconvenience of jury duty. They are citizens doing their civic duty, and are not chattel!
24. The Foundations’ Query on Promises to Jurors When you tell a jury that a case is going to last three days, make sure they are in the jury room on the afternoon of the third day. Don’t tell them you will prove something that you aren’t sure you can (or that the judge won’t let you try). Ignore this rule only if your personal credibility with a jury is not important to you. Why do you build me up (Buttercup Baby) Just to let me down?
25. Crosby’s Alternative to Forum Shopping If you can’t be with the judge you love… Love the one you’re with.
26. Marley’s Rule of Professionalism What goes around comes around.
26a. Santa Ana’s Payback Rule Deguello No Quarter Asked, No Quarter Given
27. Simon’s Rule of Emergency Bench-Bar Relations When you’re down and out. Feeling small. When tears get in your eyes, I will dry them all. Simon &Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Waters
28. Hall & Oates’s Ruling on Excessive Attorney’s Fees Ready. Willing. Overtime. Where does it stop, where do you dare me to draw the line? Well, I can’t go for that! (no can do)
29. Gaye’s Rationale on Post- trial Silence. Judges read the Blue Sheets. Telling its reporter about all the bad rulings the judge made doesn’t help your post-trial motion practice. The staff reports everything you or your staff tells them about the judge. When you bad-mouth a judge to other lawyers, it will almost always get back. I heard it through the grapevine…
…and someday, you’re going to be mine…. …and you’re just about to lose your case….
There is more wisdom to be found in the songs of Marvin Gaye. If you say real ugly things about me to the newspaper (questioning my integrity, for example), and make my mother cry, when you next have a case, expect me to say…. Let’s get it on!
30. Benatar’s Command for Effective Advocacy Hit me with your best shot! Fire Away!
31. The Outsiders’s Ruling on the Length of Voir Dire I can’t wait forever, even though you want me to. I can’t wait forever, just to know if you’ll be true. Time won’t let me, oh no. Time won’t let me wait that long.
If you think you can really win a case with a great voir dire and very little evidence… You have forgotten the lesson taught to us by the Mamas and the Papas:
32. Phillips’s Lament on Factual Insufficiency No matter how good your voir dire is, you still have to have evidence! Most juries forget the voir dire by the time they deliberate. Promises to prove something made in voir dire not kept kill your case. Monday mornin’, so good to me Monday mornin’, it was all I hoped it would be Oh Monday Mornin’, Monday Mornin’ couldn’t guarantee, That Monday evening you would still be here with me.
A few obvious facts about voir dire: Every judge will give you the time you need to voir dire the jury panel. Excessive voir dire alienates the jury panel from you and the judge. Jury questionnaires are vital in some cases, and a waste of time on others. Don’t confuse voir dire with opening argument.
33. Manchester’s Anti-lacrimony advisory Don’t cry out loud.
34. Bachman Turner Overdrive’s Grievance Avoidance Technique Takin’ care of business, everyday Takin’ care of business, in every way….
35. Zevon’s Alternative to Takin’ Care of Business I took a little risk. Send lawyers, guns and money. Dad, get me out of this. I'm the innocent bystander, But somehow I got stuck. Between a rock and a hard place And I'm down on my luck. Now I'm hiding in Honduras. I'm a desperate man. Send lawyers, guns and money. The #$%@ has hit the fan. Warren Zevon - Lawyers, Guns and Money
37. Blondie’s Response to “Busy” Lawyers Avoiding Trial. It’s not your choice which case goes to trial, it’s the judges’. Trials always trump hearings. Judges’ coordinators always call each other if you claim to be in another court. One way or another, I’m gonna find ya’. I’m gonna get ya’, get ya, get ya, get ya….
38. The Fixx’s Advisory on Translator Questions Translators can’t remember long questions. Eliminate parenthetical phrases. Ask the judge for some leniency on leading questions. One thing leads to another You told me something wrong, I know I listen too long, But then one thing leads to another.
39. Womack’s Defense of the Judicial System I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance Never settle for the path of least resistance And when you get the chance to sit it out or dance I hope you dance. -Lee Ann Womack I hope you dance
Don’t be bullied into unjustly settling a case! Don’t let judges or coordinators bully you into selling your client down the river. Try your case. Many mediators see it as their job to settle a case “whatever it takes” – your job is different. Try your case. If you are afraid to try cases, change jobs. Our system of justice is under attack! Defend it. Dance!
40. Burdon’s Judicial Plea for Forgiveness I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood Eric Burdon and the Animals
Forgive us when we err. We have bad days too! We often will base rulings on justice more than law, or law more than justice. Invariably, most lawyers want one more than the other. We are under constant pressure to rule NOW. Personal, professional and political pressures sometimes lead to distractions or temper tantrums.