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Tales from the courthouse: What not to say in ex parte letters

In case you're thinking about writing to a judge who has some control over the outcome of your case in court, let me give you a few pointers (based on a letter received today):

1. Do not type the letter with your caplock key on.
2. Do not increase the size of the font tenfold when you get all riled up.
3. Do not go off on tangents about Donald Rumsfeld, Bill O'Reilly and the French.
4. Don't ask if the judge is an orphan, thinking that would explain the reasons why he "hates you" so much. And there is no need to relate the story of how you met "Sunshine" the hooker, whose pimp is an orphan and often yells at her because he feels bad about his childhood.
5. The words "Go Fuck Yourself" probably won't do much for your case.
6. Don't send articles stating that your country (Denmark) appears to be a far better, and less corrupt place than the USA.
7. Don't refer to the Assistant D.A., a male, as looking like Twiggy. In the same vein, there is no need to tell the judge that you yelled at the ADA in a very manly voice.
8. Don't compare the judge to Hitler or Mad Max.
9. Racial and ethnic slurs are best left in the draft copy of your letter.

The more I get letters like this, the more I realize that angry, bitter plaintiffs and defendants are quite like weblog trolls.

As with all ex parte letters, this one gets marked return to sender. I should start the same policy with trolls. I'll just email their comments back to them.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Tales from the courthouse: What not to say in ex parte letters:

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Michelle at A Small Victory has seen letters to judges that put Novak's to shame. Wow. I guess there are bigger loons out there.... [Read More]

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What I derive some amusement from are pro se defendants who submit things like:

a petition for appeal based on the fact that they had confessed to more crimes than they were sentenced for, so they want their 6 year sentence extended to 6000...


a motion for a restraining order against their original judge and prosecutor, alleging both women have been sexually harassing the male defendant in his dreams, and asking the court require both to wear tinfoil hats when they sleep...

Oh, pro se defendants send the best letters. Especially the ones that write from prison.

I just finished a trial against a pro se defendant. It took a week. My direct case took less than an hour and a half. The jury returned a verdict in my client's favor in 13 minutes. It was the biggest pain in the arse I've ever had to deal with in 23 years of practice.

Wow. And I thought I had read a gem:


We recently had a judge issue an order against the pro se plaintiff I've been dealing with for 10 year which we dub the "shut the fuck up" order. She ordered that he have no further communication with the court except through motion on notice.

If judges wouldn't mollycoddle pro se litigants, maybe they'd just give up instead of making everyone's life miserable.

Ok, I'm not afraid to be the stupid one. What's a pro se defendent?

That's not stupid, Rob. I wouldn't know the meaning if I didn't work in a courthouse.

A pro se litigant is one who defends himself; one without an attorney.

Here in District Court, we see a lot of that. In fact, it's encouraged in the Small Claims part.

FWIW, "Pro se" is Latin - it translates "for himself."


Have you considered the possibility that some pro se litigants are motivated by the fact that they cannot afford bazillions of dollars in legal fees?

I assume you are a court employee. Try to remember that the primary purpose of the court system is to provide justice, not to avoid making your life miserable.

I am sure you get more than your fair share of wingnuts, but I hope you are supportive of those who are sincerely trying to get a fair shake from the system.

Hi, I'm a pro se defendent.
I would like to point you to www.tulanelink.com if you want to see one of the best pro se litigants ever.

Course, he didn't win either. The primary reason I'm a pro se defendent, is no money. I almost said NO MONEY, but I held myself in check...see I'm learning.


Anyway, another thing a pro se defendent can do (although he would better do it with an attorney as an aid) is research.

After two years of painstaking research, I finally came across a appeals court decision that exactly mimics my own case.

I don't expect to win, because a judge isn't going to hand down a winning verdict to a crazy man. But nevertheless, I have the satisfaction of knowing, that I am technically in the correct position.

Hi, there's no doubt that overstating your case can be as ineffective as understating it. overstated