Judiciary

Judge Who Wrote 'Kindergarten' Order Says He Won't Change His Style


U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks doesn’t plan to change his writing style, despite an email chastising his “demeaning and gratuitous” rhetoric from the chief judge of the appeals court that hears cases from his state.

Sparks was in Italy for two weeks and unaware of the controversy caused by the criticism from Chief Judge Edith Jones of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He defended his writing in an interview with Texas Lawyer and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Sparks’ order had invited two squabbling lawyers to a “kindergarten party” to learn discovery skills. “I didn’t think it was a big deal and still don’t,” he told Texas Lawyer. “I’ve written a lot worse things than that.”

The Austin, Texas, judge said he got supportive responses from judges and lawyers across the country. The Law Blog asked Sparks if he planned to change his writing style because of Jones’ criticism. His reply: “Absolutely not.”

Sparks says he replied to Jones in a private email. Jones is “entitled to her opinion,” he told Texas Lawyer. “I’m only responsible for my conduct. I’m not responsible for Judge Jones’ conduct.”

Jones generated her own controversy when a transcript chronicled her telling a colleague to “shut up” during oral arguments. She later apologized.

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