The Joys of the Nasty Letter

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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6 Responses

  1. Scott Moss says:

    Below is the entirety of a letter I wrote enclosing motion papers that I filed on time after defense counsel refused me a three-day deadline extension — which I had requested because the deadline set by the Court fell on Pasover (an inadvertence by the Court, which had set a slew of deadlines at a motion conference).

    Dear Helen:

    Enclosed are Plaintiff-Intervenor’s expert witness motion papers. I had indicated to Mr. Dutton that we would contact the Court to seek the three-day deadline extension that you refused to grant us late Tuesday afternoon, but it turned out that we were able to complete our papers just fine, as you can see. Please also note that we obtained permission from Judge Ellis to submit a 27-page memorandum of law in opposition to your motion to exclude Mr. Wishnick.


    Scott A. Moss

  2. Scott Moss says:

    Now that I look at it, my letter doesn’t hold a candle to the writing of Everyone’s Favorite Coroner… but it’s about as obnoxious as “enclosure” leters get.

    (Apologies for messing up the italics; I’d meant to put the whole letter in italics, but I suppose it’s clear enough.)

  3. PG says:

    Wecht’s strikes me as stupid and unlawyerly, more the sort of thing that Donald Trump would write. I liked Scheherazade Fowler’s description of “mean” letters better.

  4. Former EEOC Attorney says:

    When I was a trial attorney at the EEOC, the district director had responded to a letter from a local attorney alleging that a mediation agreement previously entered by the attorney’s client was being violated. The director responded with a lengthy and thoughtful letter (drafted by one of the attorneys) explaining why the Commission did not believe the agreement was being violated, but, if it was, the attorney’s client was more likely to be in breach than the other party.

    The attorney resonded to the director’s letter as follows:

    Dear Director:




  5. Andrew says:

    For nasty letters, why not just revisit the original source? A citizens’ group wanted to eliminate Wecht’s office as Allegheny County coroner:

    “Anytime you or any of your minions, sycophants, or other assorted motley crew wish to publicly debate the activities of my office, just let me know….I can only hope that you will have occasion to require the services of this office in the most possible personal fashion….

    “Very truly yours, Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D.”

    So tawdry. But really, what sort of thing would you expect from a person who tastelessly and thoughtlessly places the “JD” after the MD?

  6. Randy B. says:

    There is a legend floating around my firm about an old partner who responded to a particularly nasty letter as follows:

    Dear _______:

    Fuck you. Strong letter to follow.