Legal Ethics

Judge Calls for End to Lawyers’ Obfuscation, Suit’s ‘Madness’

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A federal judge in New York has called for an end to the “madness” caused by lawyers arguing over a contract to buy shares in a marketing company that installs supermarket kiosks.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III ruled that a Hong Kong investment company breached a contract to buy $21 million in stock in the kiosk company, BrandAid, even though BrandAid had misrepresented its financial condition, the New York Law Journal reports. Pauley said the investment company, Cyberian Enterprises, ratified the contract after it learned of the misrepresentations, so the contract was enforceable.

Pauley concluded the opinion (PDF posted by with harsh words for the lawyers in the case.

“This case presents a cautionary tale about the potential for advocates to obscure the issues and impose needless burdens on busy courts. The action began with a groundless application for preliminary relief. Incessant pretrial sparring, ad hominem attacks and a barrage of frivolous motions on the eve of trial impeded a resolution of the matter. The parties’ post-trial submissions only further clouded their unfocused trial presentations. Even on remand, the lawyers continued to obfuscate, leaving this court to grope down a dimly lit corridor. Time will tell whether this memorandum and order finally puts and end to the madness.”

BrandAid’s lawyer, Paul Siegert, vowed to appeal. “Any madness which occurred in this case was the result of Judge Pauley short-circuiting the trial by directing counsel to submit their direct cases in paper form,” he told the legal newspaper. He said his opponents submitted testimony in “storybook fashion” without numbered paragraphs, making it impossible for him to specifically object to their assertions.

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