After trial judge requests briefs. Why?

Longstoryshort: My divorce agreement had requirements for each party. My wife ignored one of hers and I am being sued as a result. I am suing her for contempt based on her inaction.

So, I took a day off of work for the trial. My attorney spoke, hers rebutted. His honor asked a few questions of my lawyer. A few days later my attorney tells me the judge wants briefs from both sides.

Huh!? Was he not paying attention during the trial or what? The case seems pretty clear, but now I have additional expense due to the judge’s inattention? Is this common?

Sure, maybe the judge was not paying attention. It happens. Judges are human.

But I suggest it is more likely that he simply feels he needs more information on some specific point in order to make what he considers a well-reasoned and informed decision.

As much certainty as you have about your case/position, the judge is in a far different place. Your case is but 1 of hundreds before him. You’ve been living with this situation for years, and have spent hours discussing it with your attorney over weeks/months. Whereas the judge has had whatever limited time it took to read any submissions, and hear what was said at an status calls and at oral argument.

I think it is safe to say that the one thing the judge IS NOT trying to do is cost you money, or give your attorney more fees. To the contrary, reading a post-hearing brief creates MORE work for the judge - something most judges would avoid if at all possible.

It is not at all uncommon for attorneys to fail to clarify an essential point - either intentionally or un-. If you could get your mind past the expense of this one pleading, you could try to convince yourself that the judge is going through the effort of making a good decision based on a thorough knowledge of all relevant facts and law. And, if your attorney is any good, having this additional opportunity to clearly and convincingly set out your position and point out the flaws in the other side, is to your advantage.

Cool. Thank you for the reassurance. The situation is frustrating. I had to retain a different attorney to defend me in the suit.

The other day we were out driving and I told my gf, “Hey, my attorney’s office is over there!” , and she deadpanned back, “Which one?”

I’ve seen in happen before. I’ve seen it in matters where the case law isn’t all that clear, and the judge wants the parties to write it all up.

I could understand this, but the case is extremely straightforward. The divorce agreement says, “defendant shall. . .” and the defendant’s attorney agrees that his client did not. . . and as a result I’ve suffered damages.

It might be straightforward to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually straightforward. The judge may be concerned that he is being asked to do something outside his power (e.g., to modify a previous order that is now final, or somesuch). Post-hearing written arguments are pretty common, really. Especially if the lawyers’ trial memoranda were all about one thing and it turns out during the hearing that there’s a second issue nobody really addressed.

How long (on average) does it take for the judge to respond? It is now 14 days since I got an email from my attorney with our and the defendant’s briefs attached. [/pacing]

Depends entirely on the court’s caseload and the statutes and rules of judicial procedure for your jurisdiction.

Thanks. Figures. I’ll be patient.

So, it took over 3 months for the judge to rule. I was getting nervous/pissed. Then, two weeks ago my attorney ran into the special-master who arbitrated my divorce.She told him what was going on, and he remembered my divorce!

The special master recalled that I had voiced concerns about this very possibility and that my attorney worded the agreement to protect me.

This morning my attorney emailed me, very happy to inform me that I won! Not only did I win, but I got everything I could have possibly wanted. I was worried about collecting a judgement, so I wanted to be able to deduct the money from alimony and the court agreed.

At the time we filed I was out $6,500.00 for legal fees. The court awarded me that, plus up to $40,000.00 additional should there be more expense/awards.:D:D:D


Awesome! Congrats. To emphasize a little bit more about what some others said about briefs, briefing is not about facts, it’s about law. It is not because a judge wasn’t “paying attention.” The judge needed to see more legal authority or deeper analysis to support what the parties were contending. The lawyer may not have explained to you the issue that the judge was requesting more briefing on because it would not have meant much to you. But a judge who asks for more briefing is a judge who wants to do a good job and make the right decision. Anyway, glad it worked out for you.

Second what tesseract says. I wish MORE judges asked for briefs.

If there is anything that I can do to help the judge make a decision, I do it, so I routinely file a factum, for it provides the judge with a roadmap of the material facts, applicable law and argument.

You file a what, now?

That’s a portmanteau of fact + dictum!!


^The kind of banter you’d hear if you stopped for a drink at a bar next to the courthouse. :wink:

kayaker, glad it went well for you!


We tend to use some Latin terms that work in both English and French, instead of using different words in English and French for the same thing (e.g. - “brief” / “mémoire”).

Typically, “factum” in my experience is used for appellate courts; “brief” is used more in the trial courts.

For examples, see this article: UPDATED - [Federal] Government makes case for unilateral Senate reform in Supreme Court filing

Congratulations. I’m a little surprised by the award for future legal expenses, but I don’t have much experience with court judgements. Is that partly because the judge thinks your ex may continue ignoring the agreement?

Yep. She has moved out of state, abandoning property here. The special-master (we assume) conveyed this info to his honor.