Plain English


I like to write my pleadings in plain English. My goal is generally to write motions (and proposed orders) so that Lynn Hughes would not find reason to mark them up (which he tends to do). For example, a Motion to Y:

{Style of Case}
{Title of Motion}
Judge X,

Please Y because Z.

Thank you,
Mark Bennett.

An attorney-and-counselor-at-law (someone who calls himself “. . . Esq.”) might begin:

{Style of Case}
{Title of Motion}

To the Honorable Judge of Said Court:

Comes now D, the defendant in the above-entitled and -numbered cause, by and through his attorney of record, and respectfully moves this honorable court to Y.

In support thereof, defendant would show that Z.

Wherefore, premises considered, defendant respectfully requests that this court Y.

Respectfully submitted,
. . .

By my count, 33 words, most of them meaningless or redundant or both, passed before we even found out what Y was — compared to three words in my motion.

I’ve never had a judge take exception to my plain-English motions . . . until last week, when a federal judge conveyed the message to me, through her court coordinator, that future motions should be “in the form of motions.”

“You mean with ‘comes now’ and ‘wherefore, premises considered?’” I asked.

“Yes. I can send you a sample if you like.”

I laughed. “Thank you; that won’t be necessary.”

I know how attorneys-and-counselors-at-law write; I don’t write that way because verbal folderol is generally a barrier to communication. With this judge, I will use the folderol because its absence apparently impedes communication with her. Weird, huh?

To make the medium match the language, I’d write my motions with a goose quill on vellum. But this judge’s district only accepts documents filed electronically.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.