The Wall St. Journal had an interesting article about civility in the legal profession. "From courtroom yelling matches to insulting letters and depositions that turn into fistfights, some lawyers and judges worry that the adversarial system of justice has gotten a little too adversarial."
Of course, lawyers have to advocate for their clients and the process is inherently adversarial. Last month Indiana’s Supreme Court chastised lawyers on both sides of a $1.75 million medical negligence lawsuit for making excessive objections and for "the unnecessary sparring and outright contemptuous conduct of each attorney directed toward the other."
The article seems to imply that it is worse than in the past. "To rein in "Rambo" litigators, the politeness patrol is pushing etiquette lessons, and even seeking to have civility included in attorney oaths." However, the article concedes "Jaw-droppingly outrageous conduct is rare, even the most ardent defenders of decorum agree. More common are small-bore disputes: lawyers whose sniping, in person and on paper, can spiral out of control."
Judges need to be more involved early in the litigation and monitor the progress of the parties.