Discovery: A federal judge benchslaps some lawyers

Ah, discovery, that wondrous period in a lawsuit that never, ever seems to end. When you never seem to get what you asked for, when the defendants misbehave during depositions…and I could go on and on.

Except my lawsuit is finished with discovery, so I get to read this, from the legal blog Above the Law, with amusement:

Litigators get away with a lot of obnoxious stuff during discovery. For better or worse, the pre-trial discovery phase of civil litigation is every lawyer’s opportunity to relive those times when parents leave kids alone for the first time: every slight, disagreement, and jealousy on a slow boil explodes into anarchic back-biting once there’s no authority figure around to enforce civility. Bring on the mean-spirited letters and smack-talking RFAs.

When it comes to depositions, it doesn’t always reach “fatboy” levels, but a federal deposition isn’t a deposition until someone threatens to call the magistrate — though never does.

Which is why this benchslap, where a federal judge levies a sanction straight out of elementary school, is so appropriate….

Here’s Judge Mark Bennett of the Northern District of Iowa’s description of discovery, leading up to his benchslap (obviously I’m loving that term):

Discovery — a process intended to facilitate the free flow of information between parties — is now too often mired in obstructionism. Today’s “litigators” are quick to dispute discovery requests, slow to produce information, and all-too-eager to object at every stage of the process. They often object using boilerplate language containing every objection imaginable, despite the fact that courts have resoundingly disapproved of such boilerplate objections. Some litigators do this to grandstand for their client, to intentionally obstruct the flow of clearly discoverable information, to try and win a war of attrition, or to intimidate and harass the opposing party. Others do it simply because it’s how they were taught…. Whatever the reason, obstructionist discovery conduct is born of a warped view of zealous advocacy, often formed by insecurities and fear of the truth. This conduct fuels the astronomically costly litigation industry at the expense of “the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.”

Here’s the entire article, at Biglaw Firm Ordered To Make A Video Apologizing For Discovery Abuses « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law Schools, Law Suits, Judges and Courts + Career Resources.

This entry was posted in J. Judge and courtroom, K. Discovery, L. Depositions, Law, suits and order and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.