It doesn’t seem like Jeremy Elman, of counsel at Allen & Overy, had a good time in federal District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’s courtroom the other day. Elman was representing his client, Carl Zeiss Meditec, at a hearing in front of Judge Gonzalez Rogers seeking a preliminary injunction for violations of trade secrets. But, as reported by Law360, the judge was unimpressed by the way the briefing laid out the various trade secrets at issue, retorting, “Mr. Elman, it is not my job to assume what you want.” “It is my job to evaluate what you present. There is a difference.”
But that was far from the only thing Judge Gonzalez Rogers had to say. She seemed particularly perturbed by the lack of clarity in Elman’s filings:
Elman pointed to various trade secrets arguments made in different pleadings and the complaint, but the judge again appeared irked that those allegations weren’t clearly laid out in the preliminary injunction motion.
“It is not my job to scour the record in this case,” she said. “I have a motion in front of me, and that’s the motion I’m going to evaluate. We all have law clerks. They come and go. It is your responsibility to prove your case.”
She lost her patience with Elman’s explanation of the various trade secrets at issue and characterized the lack of organization as a “huge waste of time”:
Judge Gonzalez Rogers then walked through the various alleged trade secrets she believed were listed in the motion, but paused and told Elman, “You look confused.”
He replied with a grin and said he was confused by the judge’s summary of the allegations, but the judge wasn’t amused.
“It’s not funny,” she said. “It’s a huge waste of time. You never just say, ‘Our trade secret is the source code.’ You don’t say it until the reply [brief].”
And she’s uninterested in looking in multiple locations for the information she needs for the current hearing:
Elman replied by pointing out that the judge had indicated during a prior hearing in January that the trade secret was the software, but Judge Gonzalez Rogers again appeared frustrated by the attorney’s explanation.
“So I’m supposed to go back — with hundreds of [other] cases [on my docket] — to reread transcripts from two months ago?” she asked.
Elman again argued that there could be three separate trade secrets depending on whether the software is encrypted or decrypted, or the judge can consider the software to be one trade secret in itself, but the judge told him, “You’re really not getting what I’m saying here.”
But that wasn’t the end of her frustration, particularly since in a technology heavy case, courts are “trying to learn this stuff.” And the overall organization has been problematic for the judge, since, the “docket is somewhat a mess,” and “I would suggest that the senior lawyers go back and pull up the docket, and [view] it how I have to see it.”
Ultimately, the judge took the arguments under submission and will issue a written opinion.
Practice pointer for the future: make sure you have all your ducks in a row when you’re in front of Judge Gonzalez Rogers — she’ll take kindly to it.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @[email protected]