Judge or joker? You be the jury

by The Record |
Dec. 4, 2017, 2:26pm

When did some judges become comedians, albeit mediocre ones who have to laugh at their own jokes?

You can almost hear these jurists chuckling at their assumed cleverness when you read their opinions and come across another witless witticism, often a lame pun on a litigant's name or marketing slogans.

Here's a recent example: FedEx moved to dismiss a patent infringement case against it on the grounds that the Eastern District of Texas is not a convenient forum for it. Does the judge approve the motion based on the obvious merits and recent high court decisions? No, he snarkily denies it and tries to conceal the wrong thinking with a limp joke on the company's slogan.

“According to the FedEx Defendants’ advertising, they are 'everywhere' you need them to be,” he said coyly, setting up his predictable punchline. “However, in their Motion to Dismiss Defendants argue that they are everywhere but this District, at least with respect to venue.”

Ho, ho, what a howler! What a knee-slapper! Cut it out, judge!You're slaying us! Our sides are splitting! We're rolling in the aisles!

(Don't tell us. Let us guess. You write your own material, right?)

Who's headlining the Courthouse Comedy Club this week? It's that regular laugh riot Rodney Gilstrap – U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who would be well advised to cut the comedy and bone up on venue rulings, such as the TC Heartland decision earlier this year that FedEx properly invoked and the joker judge cavalierly set aside.

The U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Heartland that the proper venue for a patent infringement suit should to be filed in districts where the defendant is incorporated or has an established place of business.

If Judge Gilstrap had applied the same criteria to FedEx, he could not have rejected the company's motion to dismiss. When his unsustainable decision is reversed by a higher court, the joke will be on him.

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