EXCLUSIVE: Judge Shaw’s ruling in re: Johnson v. Gawker in plain English

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See the previous article for the official ruling. We’ve translated it into plain English here.

The court is issuing this order because of plaintiff’s long-winded filings over the weekend.

  • A 111-page document (we deign not to call it a motion) entitled “Memorandum of Law in Opposition To: I. Motion to Transfer Venue,II. Motion to Dismiss, III. California Anti-SLAPP Motion to Strike/Dismiss … And in Support of Plaintiffs’ Arguments in the Alternative, Including: Motion for Leave to File Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint, and Motion to Stay Defendants’ California Anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss Pending Discovery, Motion for Leave to File Response in Excess Of Page Limit.” (Doc. 37)
  • a motion for leave to file a first amended complaint (without including the proposed amended complaint),
  • a motion asking permission to exceed the page limit already exceeded many times over by Doc. 37,
  • an alternative motion regarding defendants’ motion to strike the complaint, AND,
  • almost 800 pages of exhibits preceding a declaration by plaintiffs’ counsel that the exhibits appear intended to support.

Cart. Horse. Guess which one you put first?

Since you did not follow the rules of the court, all that stuff is now gone, stricken from the record. But, I’ll you another chance.

Here’s what you do. Pay close attention.

a. Motion for Leave to File in Excess of Page Limitation

Usually, when counsel asks for leave to exceed the court’s 15-page limit, he submits the request first and attaches the longer motion to the request. In the matter now before the court, counsel submitted 111 pages, plus some other stuff, and then asked for permission to submit it.


Motion denied.

Since defendants submitted two motions (one to dismiss and one to strike), plaintiffs must submit two separate responses to those motions. Two. Not one. Logical, no?

Additionally, the plaintiffs’ “seventy-page narrative discussion of facts appears to be excessive and inappropriate,” given that the defendants managed to keep their motions short, and given that it’s not our job right now to decide what facts are true or not.

In other words, tl;dr.

If you really want to submit all these facts, each one must be discussed in a numbered paragraph. Also, it would help if you explained why these facts are pertinent to the case before the court.

So, those 111 pages are stricken from the record, and plaintiffs must file two separate 20-page responses to defendants’ motions.

20 pages. 20. Not any more than 20. Capiche?

b. Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint

Denied without prejudice. Where’s the proposed amended complaint? You’re supposed to include one.

Again, did you read the rules?

c. Motion to Stay Proceedings Regarding Defendants’ Motion to Strike or Dismiss Pursuant to California’s Anti-SLAPP Law

OK, you can refile this one, provided you file with each motion a memorandum supporting each motion. Note the word “each,” counsel.

d. Plaintiff’s exhibits

As stated above, plaintiffs submitted 103 exhibits, though the declaration by counsel following them only mentions 99. They were filed in groups without descriptions as to their contents or significance.

None of those exhibits stuck to the wall.

The local rules of the court requires each exhibit be filed separately, “identified by a name that includes both the exhibit designation and a brief description of the exhibit” [emphasis added by judge].

The 103 exhibits already submitted will be stricken from the record, but you may file them again, separately, following the above-mentioned rules. Be sure they are pertinent to the case before us, please.

f. Courtesy copies

I require courtesy copies on paper from all parties. Therefore, please provide same, neatly organized and attached in some way so pages are not lost or mixed up, like with the staples or binder clips commonly found in your secretary’s desk. Binders are not required, however.

g. Future filings

The court expects plaintiffs’ future filings to follow the rules cited and summarized here. Counsel may want to review those rules.

You have until Thursday, Oct. 22, to get your shit together.

Your pal,
Judge Shaw

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