When I litigate, I am often frustrated that the lawyers representing my adversary often file answers and responses that do not fairly meet the subject of the counts within my civil complaints.  Too often, my adversaries’ lawyers will simply issue blanket denials of all my factual assertions, even innocuous and obvious ones such as “Defendant City of X is a municipal government with the State of New Jersey.” 

I am similarly frustrated by lawyers who, in every instance, load their filed responses up with nearly every “affirmative defense” imaginable regardless of whether any factual foundations for those defenses exist.

Both of these practices are sloppy.  The lawyers who write them don’t read or evaluate the specific allegations set forth in my complaints.  Rather, they just copy boilerplate and largely irrelevant verbiage from a standard format and robotically paste it into their answers and as defenses.

A good friend of mine, who shares my frustration, recently filed a motion contesting both of these practices.  And, the Presiding Judge of the Somerset County Superior Court Civil Part, Thomas C. Miller, P.J.Cv., agreed with him.  In his 21-page ruling, which is on-line here, Judge Miller struck the defendant’s machinelike answers and defenses and required them to be refiled ” based on a reasonable inquiry of the facts.” 

In other words, the defendant’s attorney was required to actually read the individual counts of my friends complaint, make reasonable inquiries as to their truth or falsity and then respond accordingly.  The attorney was also required to raise only those defenses which had a basis in fact and law. 

Hopefully, Judge Miller’s opinion, although unpublished and of no precedential value, may help other litigants who face the same frustrations.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]