Benchslaps, Federal Judges, Kids, Litigators, Pregnancy / Paternity, Rudeness, Trials

Federal Judge Benchslaps Plaintiffs’ Counsel: Stop Being Tools

Judge Eric Melgren (D. Kansas)

A trial was scheduled to start in Kansas federal court on June 14, 2011. Defendants moved for a short continuance because one of their lawyers is expecting his first child on July 3. (The lawyer in question, Bryan Erman, is quite cute — check out that chin dimple.)

Plaintiffs’ counsel objected to the continuance — strenuously. This took Judge Eric Melgren by surprise. And not in a good way.

Judge Melgren granted the continuance — and took the opportunity to benchslap the lawyers who refused to consent….

Check out the order, dated April 12, over here. Ouch. After shooting down all of the plaintiffs’ objections, one by one, Judge Melgren concluded as follows:

Certainly this judge is convinced of the importance of federal court, but he has always tried not to confuse what he does with who he is, nor to distort the priorities of his day job with his life’s role. Counsel are encouraged to order their priorities similarly.

Defendants’ Motion is GRANTED. The Ermans are CONGRATULATED.


We’re glad that Judge Melgren, despite the commendable career commitment that led him to become U.S. Attorney and then a federal judge, has his priorities in order. Sometimes life trumps the law. Just ask The People’s Therapist.

Moral of the story: to paraphrase our small-firm columnist, Jay Shepherd, “Don’t be a continuance douche.”

UPDATE: You can read more about the ruling at the New York Times and Lowering the Bar.

Jayhawk Capital Management, LLC v. LSB Industries, Inc.: Order on Motion to Continue
[U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas]

Earlier: Small Firms, Big Lawyers: Don’t Be an Extension Douche
Not Worth It

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