Practical Advice on Bankruptcy Court Protocol

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

Tips from Hawai`i Judges, part 7 of 7

In the final post in our series on Tips from Hawai`i Judges, we hear from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Hawai`i, located at the opposite end of town from the District Court at 1132 Bishop Street between Union Mall and Fort Street Mall.  These tips appeared in the May 2014 issue of the Hawaii Bar Journal.  Our one active federal Bankruptcy judge and one retired federal Bankruptcy Judge had very practical suggestions for those appearing in bankruptcy court:

  •  Always bring the Bankruptcy Code with you to court hearings.

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Brevity, Clarity and Credibility in Federal District Court

Tips from Hawai`i Judges, part 6 of 7

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

In part 6 of our review of Tips from Hawai`i Judges, we’re sharing some of the best guidance from our Federal District Court judges featured in the May 2014 issue of the Hawaii Bar Journal.

The United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i is located in the Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole Federal Building and United States Courthouse at 300 Ala Moana Boulevard.  After five years of retrofit work hidden by barriers, the new main entrance off of Halekauwila Street is finally open.  Our Federal Judges offered a wide variety of suggestions on briefings, pleadings, witnesses, and decorum:

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Litigators’ Top Mistakes: From the Judges’ Eye View

By Morgan Early

Don’t overkill a motion for summary judgment – the shorter it is, the more it appears there are no genuine factual disputes. Don’t underestimate the value of verdict reporters – you can bolster your negotiating power at a pre-trial settlement conference when you cite them.

These were just some of the points covered in a recent National Business Institute seminar entitled “As Judges See It: Top 10 Mistakes Lawyers Make in Civil Litigation,” which featured three Denver District Court Judges in the 2nd Judicial District of Colorado sharing candid advice and war stories.  Their advice also rings true for Hawai`i courtroom practice.

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“With All Due Respect”?

Do the honorable thing and don’t tell that to the judge.

By Louise Ing

You are in the midst of an incisive argument to the court, yet the judge disagrees with your point.  On the tip of your tongue is, “With all due respect, Your Honor….”  But wait, do you say it, or should you keep that overused phrase to yourself?  Let your opponent say it if he or she dares (think about how often you hear lawyers flinging that phrase around in court).  For yourself, the better part of valor is to ban it from your courtroom vocabulary.

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Successful Practice Before the District Courts of the State of Hawai`i

Tips from Hawai`i judges, part 5 of 7

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

Previously, we looked at Tips from Hawai`i Judges of the Hawai`i Supreme Court, the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and the Circuit Courts that were featured in the May 2014 issue of the Hawaii Bar Journal.  This week, we continue our review of judges’ tips, focusing on the District Courts for the State of Hawai`i.   The District Court Judges, whose dockets include traffic violations, civil actions under $40,000, and petitions for temporary restraining orders, stressed responsibility and professionalism:

  • If you have a scheduling conflict, make arrangements and notify the court. Do not fail to appear. Make sure you have a trustworthy calendaring system and a back-up calendaring system.

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Making a Good Impression Before the Hawai`i Circuit Court

Tips from Hawai`i judges, part 4 of 7

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

In our previous post, we shared tips from the Intermediate Court of Appeals included in the May 2014 issue of the Hawaii Bar Journal.  This week, we have some great oral argument tips and suggestions from the judges of the Circuit Courts of the State of Hawai`i, which have general jurisdiction in criminal and civil cases.

Always come prepared and assume that the judge has read your pleadings. As such, do not simply reiterate what you have written, but use the time at the hearing to summarily emphasize your major points.

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Putting Your Best Foot Forward Before the Intermediate Court of Appeals

Tips from Hawai`i Judges, part 3 of 7

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

Previously, we shared some helpful hints from the Hawai`i Supreme Court for would-be petitioners in briefing, arguing, and requesting relief that were featured in the May 2014 issue of the Hawai`i Bar Journal.  As we continue our examination of Tips from Hawai`i Judges, we move closer to Punchbowl Street to hear from the judges at the Intermediate Court of Appeals.  There are six ICA judges, who sit on panels of three to hear nearly every appeal from Hawai`i’s trial courts and some state agencies.

The Intermediate Court of Appeals (“ICA”) offers useful technical tips for citations.  “When citing to the Record on Appeal and to transcripts, cite the docket entry number in the Judiciary Electronic Filing and Service System (JEFS) and the PDF page number. The ICA uses JEFS to find record citations in briefs, and citing to the docket entry number and PDF page number provides the most helpful way to locate the citation.  Citing only to the date of the transcript makes it difficult to locate the transcript, especially where multiple transcripts are filed.”

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Surviving and Thriving Before the Hawai`i Supreme Court

Tips from Hawai`i Judges, part 2 of 7

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

Previously, we shared some useful practice tips from Hawai`i judges that appeared in the May 2014 issue of the Hawaii Bar Journal.  Now, we begin our exploration of more specific, nuanced suggestions at every level of our court system, starting with the Hawai`i Supreme Court.

The Hawai`i Supreme Court Justices offered several pointers for submitting briefs.  They stressed that attorneys must follow the rules, especially the briefing requirements in Rule 28 of the Hawai`i Rules of Appellate Procedure.  They admonished attorneys not to “throw in the kitchen sink,” but to “focus on your strongest issues.”  They also talked about the importance of the record.  “If the issue was not raised at the trial court, it is very difficult to get a “plain error review.”  Also, “when you appear for oral argument, be sure to be completely familiar with the record on appeal. This is true even if you were not the attorney in the trial court. It enhances your credibility as an advocate if you are able to readily answer questions from the court about what the record shows and what it does not show.  Conversely, if you are not familiar with the record, it undercuts the effectiveness of your arguments.”

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Creating Winning Relationships Between Pro Hac Vice and Local Counsel

Perspectives:  Louise Ing

by Michelle N. Comeau

Hawai`i courts make clear that out-of-state counsel representing clients pro hac vice in Hawai`i must associate with one or more Hawai`i attorneys, and that Hawai`i counsel are expected to participate meaningfully in all aspects of the case (including serving as lead trial counsel, if the case reaches that stage).  In theory, teaming up an out of town attorney who specializes in a particular legal area or client with a Hawai`i attorney who is well-versed in bringing or defending that type of litigation here in Hawai`i should deliver top results that enhance what either lawyer or firm could accomplish on her own.

As recognized by most attorneys who have been in these relationships, however, it’s not always smooth sailing.  What are the features of the pro hac vice/local counsel relationship that best reflect a true strategic alliance between counsel?  And how do you get there?

Louise Ing estimates that she has served as local counsel on scores of matters over 35 years of practice in Hawai`i, from patent infringement to breach of contract and everything in between.  Ing views these matters as more than ordinary cases; they are opportunities to observe firsthand how other law firms run their cases and to work with accomplished attorneys nationwide.

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