Give the Judge His Space

Another entry in our “Consequences of Sloppiness” series, but this one seems like more than just sloppiness. ABAJournal.comhas a post entitled, “Judge Warns Lawyers for Blackwater Defendants About Single Spacing.”  Here’s part of it:

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has put lawyers for five Blackwater Worldwide contractors on notice that their failure to double space won’t be tolerated.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina wrote in a short notice (PDF) filed on Monday that the lawyers submitted a legal memorandum in single-space type, according to the Washington Post blog The Crime Scene. Urbina said the filing was “an apparent attempt to include more information in their submission than would otherwise be permitted.”

Urbina said the parties are now on notice that any further single-spacing will result in sanctions. The lawyers represent five former security contractors accused of shooting 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007.

As is often the case, it may appear that this judge has gotten angry over a minor matter, but the rules are the rules and a line must be drawn somewhere. More important here, this does not appear to be a simple matter of a clerical error, but  “an apparent attempt” to gain an advantage by violating the rules.

As yet the judge has not applied any formal consequences, but there are informal consequences associated with this type of thing. Think about it – the lawyers who are representing people accused of violating rules have a problem following rules! Seems that must influence how the defense is perceived.

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