Judge R. David Proctor gave his opinion in one word: "Really?"
The judge was responding to a motion to exceed page limits. For effect, he let Tom Hanks do the talking for him with this meme.
It was a humorous footnote in an otherwise rancorous case. But even Hanks took things more seriously when he played a lawyer.
Proctor was basically fed up with the "discovery soap opera" in the federal case. The defendants wanted to exceed the 30-page briefing limit in response to the plaintiffs' request for discovery sanctions.
The judge responded with a two-page order, declining to rule on the request because a magistrate is handling discovery in the case. Proctor added the meme in a footnote with an explanation.
"To be clear, the court volunteers this impression for two reasons: (1) to make its point about faux drama in briefing, and (2) to remind the parties that while this is no doubt serious litigation, 'personalities' in these cases don't help anyone," he wrote.
The one-word meme said it all, but Proctor had more to say. It wasn't quite as funny.
The problem went beyond the length of the briefs; it was the tone.
"The parties' puffery fails to impress the court," he said. "Strong language -- like all rhetorical devices -- loses strength with repeated use."
The long and short of it was, the lawyers were just too wordy. Proctor invoked another humorist to make the point.
"The court is mindful of Mark Twain's aphorism that he once wrote a long letter because he didn't have time to write a shorter one," Proctor said.