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Curing Incivility: How and When Should Judges Act?

Articles & Publications

September 28, 2011
By: Edward M. McNally
Delaware Law Weekly

A recent letter from a Delaware Superior Court judge gained national attention for its criticism of the lawyers involved in pending cases before it and particularly for the court’s novel remedy — a mandatory Sunday session in civility.

While I have no opinion on whether the judge’s reprimand was deserved or not, her attempt to call attention to what she saw as incivility points out the need to address incivility in civil litigation. Lawyer squabbling and other ill-mannered acts only breed disrespect for the law.

After all, the rule of law is supposed to be a step up from the use of force to settle disputes. But if the lawyers seem to be acting to avoid resolutions based on merit in favor of who has the most abusive advocate, then the law is no better than “might makes right.” We cannot let that happen.

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