, 11 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
I haven't told a Terrifying Federal Judge story in a while.

This is the tale of Judge Nameless And The Incomprehensible Question.


I've mentioned Judge Nameless before.

It could never be said of Judge Nameless that he withheld, out of a foolish sense of sentimentality or Victorian propriety, his frank views regarding the adequacy of the lawyers appearing before him.

/3 Judge Nameless was not a particular fan of oral argument on motions. But he held them, in a manner that conveyed he was donning a sort of jurisprudential hairshirt.

There's an important rule of advocacy that young lawyers often find difficult: shut up when you're winning.
/4 Judge Nameless is a firm believer in this rule. He used to utter it all the time.

Sort of.

What Judge Nameless would say to lawyers -- bark, if you want to be unkind -- is COUNSEL, ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH SATCHEL PAIGE? He would say this right in the middle of your argument.
/5 Satchel Paige was, of course, a storied pitcher, first in the Negro League and then in Major League Baseball.

He once said "don't look back, something might be gaining on you."
/6 The significance of Judge Nameless' Satchel Paige reference is, naturally, that the attorney has already won the issue, and rather than looking back should sit down and shut up.

This meaning was not always entirely clear, particularly to young lawyers.
/7 I spent a lot of time in Judge Nameless' court, and I saw a lot of lawyers -- lawyers who were winning their point -- draw that line, delivered in Judge Nameless' accustomed tone, which was not typically described as solicitous. Some -- perhaps half? figured it out.
/8 But the other half -- often young lawyers, sometimes old ones, men and women, good lawyers and bad ones -- did not figure it out.

They tended to react with wide eyes, stammers, open mouths, and visible contemplation of alternate careers that had slipped away.
/9 Judge Nameless believed in economy of words and therefore was not inclined to elaborate, even if asked, which most lawyers were too terrified to do.

Occasionally lawyers would try to puzzle it out. Is this about -- greatness? Perseverance? Oh God is it a RACE THING?
/10 Some lawyers concluded that Judge Nameless was attempting, albeit somewhat abruptly, to establish rapport with them by discussing sports, as one does. That would be a no.

In short: the lawyers who got it sat down, the lawyers who didn't generally fell to miserable pieces.
/11 Judges, notwithstanding exceptional vociferative capacity, are human. One of the challenges of life is to develop a strategy for responding soothingly to humans when you have no idea what the fuck they are talking about. Thanks to Judge Nameless for the lesson. /end
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