COURT OF APPEALS JUDGE SARA COMBS SLAMS ATTORNEYS FOR UNPROFESSIONAL COMMENTS IN APPELLATE BRIEFS

Jan. 23, 2009
The Court of Appeals in a Madison County case  (Joshua Spivey v. Commonwealth) sent a warning about unprofessional and inappropriate language in appellate briefs submitted in the  case.  The appellate decision was issued on Jan. 23, 2009. It is posted as Case No. 16 on LawReader. Members can access the case at:  COURT OF APPEALS DECISIONS FOR JAN. 23, 2009 .

The opinion was authored by Chief Court of Appeals Judge Sara Combs. Judge Wine concurred, and Senior Judge Buckingham concurred only in the result.
The court was upset over the unnecessary language in which the attorneys critized the other.
The opinion didn’t specify which attorney said what, but they listed the names of the attorneys at the end of the opinion as follows:
 

BRIEF FOR APPELLANT:
Gene Lewter
Department of Public Advocacy
Frankfort, Kentucky
BRIEF FOR APPELLEE:
Jack Conway
Attorney General of Kentucky    (The Attorney General does not usually write briefs and his name is included due to his status as the Attorney General.)
James C. Maxson
Assistant Attorney General
Frankfort, Kentucky
Chief Judge Sara Combs wrote:
“The briefs of both counsel contain numerous examples of unprofessional and inappropriate language; in some instances, counsel engaged in personal attacks on one another.
In another, a crude parody involving opposing counsel’s name was inserted. In one instance, counsel referred to an opposing argument as “silly.”
One of the briefs also contains unnecessary and extraneous attempts at metaphors that do not constitute arguments of law.
Sarcastic language and insidious innuendoes have no place in any legal document – be it briefs of counsel or opinions of a court. Since both sides have acted in pari delicto, we have declined to strike the briefs or to protract this appeal by ordering the filing of new briefs that conform with the basic tenets of professionalism.
However, we trust that future admonition along these lines will never again be necessary”
 

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