Thursday, April 05, 2007

Parker v. Walters Kluwer (Cal. Ct. App. - April 3, 2007)

Litigating against pro se litigants is always interesting. Since they're often whacko, and to their substantial detriment. Like here.

Sheer entertainment value was also provided by Part I of Justice Johnson's opinion. The pro se litigant, Leonard Parker, also represented himself on appeal. As ably as you might expect from someone who lost the lawsuit below when terminating sanctions were entered against him. On appeal, rather than cut-and-paste the arguments and authorities he cited below -- an easy task, I might add, in the modern computer era -- Parker simply filed a brief that said that he "incorporated by reference" those arguments.

Funny. And clearly improper. For this reason, all that Justice Johnson really had to say in response to these contentions was precisely what he said in the first paragraph of Part I: "Throughout his brief on appeal Parker alludes to arguments he made in the trial court and purports to incorporate these arguments by reference in his appellate brief. It is well-established, however, this practice does not comply with rule 8.204(a)(1)(B)3 of the California Rules of Court which requires an appellate brief 'support each point by argument and, if possible, by citation of authority.'" (footnotes and citations omitted). Yep. Exactly right.

Nonetheless, even though this is clearly enough, I thought that it was neat that Justice Johnson then went on for around a full page to explain why that rule makes sense; in particular, why it makes ecological sense:

"While incorporation by reference might seem to make sense ecologically, by reducing the amount of paper used in appellate briefs, the actual result would be to increase the amount of paper used in an appeal. The rules require an original and four copies of the appellate brief. The original brief stays with the record on appeal. Each of the three justices on the panel deciding the case receive copies of the briefs which they can use at their desks, work on at home, or take with them when traveling for an engagement outside the court. The fourth copy remains in the clerk’s office for public inspection. Only one copy of the trial court record is filed in the appellate court, however. If all three justices had to share this single record in order to review, research and evaluate a party’s arguments the time it would take for the court to decide the appeal would considerably increase. This would work a hardship on the parties to that appeal and to the parties in other appeals awaiting their turn for consideration and decision. Alternatively, four copies of the trial court record would have to be filed with the Court of Appeal. Because these records often consist of thousands of pages it is easy to see how the amount of paper used in the appeal would increase significantly."

And the trees rejoice! Anyway, I thought it was funny that Justice Johnson thought it necessary to go on at length about the justification for this particular rule.

I'm not going to even talk about the irony that arises out of the fact that Justice Johnson's unnecessary policy defense of a rule that allegedly results in killing fewer trees actually ends up killing a lot of trees since it takes up a page or so of a published opinion, a page subsequently replicated in thousands of advance sheets, paper copies, and pages of the California Appellate Reporter.

And the oaks just shake their heads.