As the trial courts get busier, the paper side of the practice becomes more important. I posted earlier about the political aspects of Judge Russell’s presentation at the Smith County Bar Association meeting. Now here’s the “practice pointers” post.
Judge Russell presented the “Top Ten Things Lawyers Could Do Better!” Number 3 is “Fully research the law.” Under that heading, he recommends that attorneys “Deliver Briefing and Case Law to the Court”. In case the handout wasn’t clear, Judge Russell spent some time talking about this point. Judge Russell appreciates bench briefs. Good ones. Not short and conclusory, but not too long either. One page, if possible. With cases attached. And get them to the Judge a reasonable time before the hearing or trial — it doesn’t do much good to hand him something in the heat of battle. Judge Russell actually likes to read these things beforehand.
“Beforehand” may be misleading. It implies that there’s something after the paper briefing, something more. “Oral argument” is probably what you’re thinking. Think again. Oral argument isn’t automatic. Under Smith County Local Rules 2.3 & 2.7, it must be requested. Even if it is requested, it may be denied. Local Rule 2.3 provides that: “The Court will not actually hear oral argument on a motion for summary judgment unless [it is requested] and the Court determines that oral argument will substantially aid the Court in ruling ….” [the underlining is in the Local Rules!]