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U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White wants to give more than 100 lawyers a schooling in the rules of his courtroom. Last week, the Northern District of California judge slapped $250 sanctions on both sides of a San Francisco police brutality case for failing to follow his standing orders. Then he told the two defense attorneys, deputies in the roughly 180-lawyer city attorney’s office, to spread a cautionary tale among their co-workers. According to his sanctions order, they’ve got until Monday to distribute copies of his standing orders “throughout the city attorney’s office.” Lesson one: Think twice before writing him a letter. The judge’s ire was at least partly due to a pair of written communiques he got in the days leading up to last week’s court appearance. Each side wrote him a letter in which they disagreed over whether there were outstanding discovery issues and whether the trial should be pushed back. According to minutes of the proceeding, after fining both sides for not following his standing orders (his order doesn’t say which ones), the judge also “cautioned counsel that letter writing to this court is not allowed, except in the case of a discovery dispute.” Benjamin Rosenfeld, a lawyer with the Law Office of Dennis Cunningham, said he felt he needed to counter the other side’s factual account and their request to continue the trial. “I have a duty to represent my client, and one of an attorney’s duties is to respond.” Still, he said, he’ll find some other way to make his points to White in the future. “I won’t make this mistake again.” Deputy City Attorney Cassandra Knight declined to comment, as did Deputy City Attorney Sean Connolly, who noted last week that “the order’s not final and it’s still a pending matter.”

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