A Gentle Reminder that Judges Don’t Think Surprises Are Funny

District Court Judge Robert Jonker of the Western District of Michigan was not tickled to learn that while he was presiding over a status conference, one of the counsel appearing before him was filing a motion in New Jersey state court seeking to enjoin his case.  But the judge had enough sense of humor to tweak the offending counsel with a cartoon, while letting him know he did not appreciate the face-to-face omission of this key information in his courtroom.  He likened the filing of the injunction motion to building a brick wall in the middle of his courtroom without notice, and started his Order as follows:

 The Court feels a bit like the character in the following cartoon:
Well, Was It Something I Said

 He also noted that the surprise was not only impolite, but feckless, because “based on long-standing rules recognized by the United States Supreme Court, State Courts are utterly without power to enjoin Federal Court proceedings in in personam actions, either directly or indirectly.”

The Order was not all fun and games.  He mandated that the offending counsel explain in detail what he knew when he stood up in court, and why he chose not to disclose his actions to the Court and the other attendees at the time.  He also noted that all future communications by this counsel occur with the approval of local counsel.  The amusing, but testy, Order can be read here: Employers Insurance v. McGraw Edison.

Straight Arrow

December 9, 2014

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