Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Editor's Page

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Editor's Page

Article excerpt

Greetings and happy new year. I recently received a daily question and answer journal as a gift. Each day it poses a short question that prompts me to briefly write thoughts about various aspects of life. A question I recently read asked, "Who inspires you?" I immediately answered without hesitation, "Lawyers who can do their jobs ethically and without making personal attacks against opposing counsel. And people who stand up to bullies." Later that evening I pondered why that answer came so quickly. I had spent much of my time that very day replying to a seven-page response brief that accused me of "glossing over facts," "quoting cases out of context," "purposefully omitting the critical conclusion of a quoted sentence," "neglecting to mention the rest of the discussion," "trying to steer the court into clearly reversible error," and "misstating the law." Of course, none of the accusations were true. It was, instead, nothing more than a desperate attempt to muddy the waters and bias the court against me and my client in a case involving a rather mundane question of claim preclusion. In my written reply, I took the high road, focused on the merits of the legal arguments, and did not address my opponent's uncivil rhetoric.

Any attorney who exhibits this kind of lack of civility tarnishes the entire image of the legal profession. Don't worry, my opponent in this instance was not a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel. I believe we are civil and professional in all of our legal endeavors.

Ad hominem, which stands for the Latin term argumentum ad hominem, is basically a response to an argument that attacks the person's character rather than the logic or content of the argument. Ad hominem attacks against opposing counsel are uncalled for and unprofessional. …

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