Here's a worthwhile post from Maxwell Kennerly's Litigation & Trial weblog: "How To Write Your Brief So That The Judge Will Hate You."
Kennerly's post came about like this. First, Kennerly read an article about a judge who wasn't happy with a tone of a lawyer's brief. Next, Kennerly went on PACER and found the offending brief. On his weblog, he highlighted some of the places where the brief's tone was suspect and made the whole thing available by clicking a link.
The offending brief includes a lot of vitriol and sarcasm aimed at the other side: it snidely says the plaintiffs (two legal professors) were motivated to sue by mere "unhappiness," says their claims are hard to understand, accuses them of "feigning injury," says they are wasting the court's time, and calls their action "obviously unmeritorious."
Does it sound like a lot of briefs you've read in your career? At the end of his post, Kennerly gives this advice:
An opening brief filled with sarcasm will perturb a judge doing his or her best to reserve judgment until they've heard both sides just as much as an opening statement filled with indignity will repulse a jury doing their best to be fair and impartial until they've heard all of the evidence.
Kennerly's post stands as a good reminder to all of us who write for judges--judges who are always more interested in the facts and the law than our own belly-aching about the other side.