AuthorLeonard H. Bucklin
14. Pleadings
Make a summary of the pleadings and keep it here, along with a double-sided copy
of the last and therefore “live” pleading from you and your opposition. Do not keep all
the pleadings here.
The summary of the pleadings is important for organization and memory. Do not
rely on a past reading. For your everyday work on the file, rely on your summary of the
pleadings. A written summary clarifies your thinking.
What do I mean by summary? Identify each cause in two or three words of legal
shorthand (e.g., “negligence”) and give an outline of the core issues in the case. Can you
do it in 250 words? Imagine that you are writing a lead paragraph for The Wall Street
Journal. For example, I have seen 15 pages of pleading boiled down to say:
Jones [Plaintiff] states there was Fraud and Negligent Misrepresentation. XYZ
Company misled investors about its finances.
CEO Adams and Treasurer Franklin were directly involved and acted with
knowledge that they would harm investors. As officers, their conduct is
imputed to the company.
XYZ says CEO Adams did it by himself to sell his stock shares at his price.
XYZ says statute provides civil immunity because they told county prosecutor.
Adams says he relied on Franklin’s certification to him, and took no affirma-
tive action himself.
Franklin says Adams knew what was going on, and that the records were
standard accounting practice in the industry.
All defendants say no proximate causation of Jones’s damages.
All defendants say Jones failed to minimize damages.
You make this newspaper-short summary for several reasons. First of all, it wonderfully
clarifies your own thinking. Second, this summary states what you are going to be telling
the motions judge, who says you have two minutes to tell her what the case is about.
Last and most important, this summary is what you will work into the initial commu-
nication to the prospective jurors and the jury regarding the issues. This is the short
story of the issues that you will communicate to the jury. Jurors have the most compli-
cated news stories explained to them at 10 p.m. every night on television in 30 seconds,
so you need to do the same.

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