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To the dismay of countless IT Directors, video clips from YouTube.com have steadily infiltrated the servers at many corporations in the last year. Reports have stated that the website receives over 100 million viewers each day, a major part of which includes numerous corporate desk-jockeys that venture from their monotonous paper-pushing duties to the comical, two minute films featured in this neo-nickelodeon. With a click of a button, anyone can take a lesson on guitar chords, gaze at a game of human Tetris, view music videos from any era, or sift through hundreds of various television clips. Of late, nuggets from the TV show “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” have become increasingly popular as adult contestants test their knowledge on topics a grade-schooler would know, i.e. geography, long division, and elementary grammar. What results is a dash of comedy over a bed of embarrassment.
As this show has raged through popular culture via the electronic media, a trace of its rugged humor has trickled into Maryland’s law community and has manifested itself in the Judicial Administration Section, which will host “Are You Smarter than a Law Student? Civil Procedure, Problems & Solutions!” at MSBA’s 2008 Annual Meeting in Ocean City, MD. Despite the obvious mock of the television show, the seminar’s topic is not to be taken lightly.
Chaired by Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Lynne Battaglia, the Section looks to address the growing concern Circuit Court judges statewide have voiced with attorneys’ civil procedures. According to Battaglia, judges have taken issue with the lawyers’ lack of knowledge in the process and approached her about aiding the situation. Ever the facilitator, Battaglia aims to use this summer meeting as a starting point for, eventually, a regular program offered by the Section.
Currently, the Judge is asking anyone with a question or suggestion on civil procedures to submit them before the June program. Certain ones will be posed to stump the decorated panel of bar members, which includes attorneys James Archibald and Paul Sandler, as well as the Honorable John F. Fader (ret.). No laugh track will be necessary on this set. These three men are out to set the record straight on civil procedures.
“In all professions there is a learning curve,” said Sandler in an attempt to rationalize the problem. “We [lawyers] need to keep elevating our game.”
The Archibald/Sandler tandem has taken their own strides to assist Maryland lawyers in civil proceedings with their book Pleading Causes of Action in Maryland, which is set to be released in its fourth edition later this spring. Their book, which began in earnest 15-16 years ago, offers examples of complaints for different kinds of Causes of Action and features pertinent cases to these complaints. Born as a civil “resource tool for Maryland trial lawyers”, this 800+ page book has blossomed into something neither quite expected.
“We felt there was a need for [the book],” said Archibald, “and the positive feedback has corroborated those feelings. We are pleased [with the book], but it can always be made better.”
“A book of this nature can never be complete,” continued Sandler.
With each passing year, as new court rulings and contributions from bar members are submitted, new material and subjects arise in Pleading Causes. Apropos of this continually changing guide will be, come the Annual Meeting, the restless ocean waves crashing on the shoreline at the Clarion Hotel with Archibald and Sandler inside looking to absorb the bevy of questions on civil procedures – a topic that is no laughing matter.