Yesterday morning U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap held a hearing in a pending patent case in Marshall arising out of disputes over extensions and addressed in emphatic terms what he called "scorched-earth lawyering."
After describing it as "in equal parts repugnant and offensive to the Court" he instructed the parties that there would no more routine extensions of time deadlines or page limitations in this case without an agreed motion to extend being filed and signed by both parties, including lead counsel and local counsel for each party, filed not less than 72 hours in advance of the time the extension would apply. "There will be no more 11th hour agreements that then suddenly become disagreements," he told the parties, "and the Court will not entertain gotcha tactics in this case."
The Court also expressed its opinion on the parties' briefing and motion practice in the case, stating that "[a] large portion of the briefing that I have read so far and your motion practice can only be viewed by the Court on a par with bickering children. I know you are competent, qualified counsel, and I expect more from you than that, a lot more. It pains me in a very real sense to remind all of you of this, but your conduct and your work product in this case is a part of your respective legacies before the Bar as members of an ancient and venerable profession. Your forget that at your peril, and you forget that at your client's peril."
Judge Gilstrap concluded his remarks with the following:
An icon of our profession no less important than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: "Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke." Ladies and gentlemen, I am tired of breathing your smoke, and I intend to clear the air in this case either with your help or without your help. . . . I can assure you that if you make this case more professional and efficient by working together in reaching sensible solutions to these type of matters, and do it in an honorable and reliable way, the Court will respond toward you and your clients in like kind, but let me also assure you that the converse is equally true. So consider yourselves and your clients duly warned.