"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Evelyn and Pearl Play Tug

The new camera arrived this evening and the battery is being charged. All I have for you is a YouTube video of the girls playing tug and a few snapshots. The quality isn't good but I don't think you can beat the subject matter.

No quilting, today. I worked at home but pretty much had my nose to the grindstone and never really caught up.

Pearl is just a darling. She is sleeping through the night. This evening, get this, she actually tried to get out the back door when she needed to go to the loo! We were astonished. She's been sleeping in her crate with the door open all evening and is the first dog I've ever had who watches TV. She is a little personality, that girl is. So far, she seems to have no bad habits. Keep your fingers crossed.

But even though I was distracted by the Princess, I kept busy on work, today.

The longer I am in the business, the more likely, it seems, that new lawyers who are floundering for guidance (and we have all been there - it is a rite of passage) manage to frustrate both of us as they learn how a particular court works.

The problem is that every court is different and their procedure varies depending on where you are practicing. For example, suppose you want to go before a judge to ask him/her to rule on an issue and there are several lawyers involved. One court may let you call the clerk to ask for a court date (saving you a trip to the courthouse). They "give" you several dates and you pick one and send the papers to the other parties telling them when to appear. A second court may insist that you appear at the clerk's window having already managed to gather available dates from all the other parties. A third court may simply take care of that for you - you just fax in your request and they laboriously call all the attorneys on the case to coordinate a court date and send out notices.

Courts will not change their procedure for anything. That is the way they do it and if they made an exception, they'd leave themselves open to claims that they aren't being fair. It is a waste of time to ask for an exception.

Not too far as a crow flies there is a jurisdiction that makes it easy as pie. Call it Courthouse Easy Street. It is about an hour away and if an attorney wants to go before the judge, his assistant just calls the court and tells them what he needs and when he wants to see the judge. The court then contacts all the other parties and sends out notices. This particular jurisdiction is in a wealthy area and many silk stocking firms practice there.

We call them stuck up behind their backs.

My usual jurisdiction, call it Courthouse Dark Alley, makes it hard on you, most of the time. I love them, but it is true. You have to coordinate available dates from the other attorneys, in advance. Some of those lawyers may not like you or have better things to do than answer their phone or return faxes. So sometimes, it is a bit of a challenge to get dates. After you get the dates, you have to physically show up at the courthouse to file your papers and get a court date. Hopefully, the court has available dates that match the ones that work for you and the other attorneys because if they don't, you have to go back to square one. At Courthouse Dark Alley, we are used to this procedure and don't spend any time whining about it. It won't change their procedure and we are tough out here in the sticks. We can take it.

Actually, I am just being kind of snarky for the fun of it. My jurisdiction has the best bar you could imagine. They all work together, try to return calls, etc. We all know each other and the professionalism and decency of most of our lawyers is one of the things that make it so rewarding to work with them.

But the problem is that the young silkstocking lawyers get a run in their hose when they come prowling around the dark alley. These young lawyers from Courthouse Easy Street, who are charging their clients an arm and a leg an hour, don't factor in that in order to file something, they will have to drive a couple of hours just to get to my courthouse and back to their office. More if traffic is bad. At $250.00 or more an hour, well, you add it up.

Just so you know, guardians ad litem don't charge $250.00 per hour.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to deal with these young whippersnappers who manage to completely screw things up. They wait until the last minute to file something, usually without checking with the other lawyers. They give a call to the clerk at Courthouse Dark Alley and the clerk politely tells them that they need to come to the courthouse, in person. Sometimes, instead of a phone call, they fax over their papers with a cover letter instructing the clerk regarding what the clerk needs to do. They also instruct them to call them back as soon as they have completed these tasks. And they give them a deadline, like, by the end of the day.


Imagine how well that goes. They are lucky if the letter or fax doesn't just get tossed in the trash. On a regular basis, I get calls from irate clerks who mainly just want to vent. Pissing off the clerks is a little like crossing the IT guys at work or the waiter at the restaurant. Before he brings out your meal. Really, you don't want to do that.

Once the young lawyer figures out he has a problem, invariably, I get a call or e-mail directing me to somehow "fix" it. There are rarely any "would you please," or "I am desperate and you are so beautiful," or "I will give you money," statements included in their demands. I don't get too bent out of shape. By the time they send up an emergency flare, they are frustrated. We've all been there.

I have no idea why they think I have any pull at my court but many of them clearly are completely convinced that I can do this. I can't. When I tell them I can't, they get agitated. They want me to be the one to go to the courthouse. I explain to them that I am 45 minutes away and it is THEIR motion. You know what they say? Seriously, this happens everytime - they say, "I am an hour away!!"

(Well, duh. It is THEIR motion! Which should mean that it is THEIR problem.)

"I can't charge my client for that!" they continue.

What I usually do is tell them that the clerk is not going to change their procedure. Swear. But out of sympathy, I usually offer to call and ask.

"Call me right back!" they insist.

"After I've had lunch," I tell them. You can't let them run all over you, after all.

So I call the clerk and ask. They tell me no. I say, Yup, that is what I thought.

I call back the young whippersnapper and they tell me how stupid my jurisdiction is and how they don't do it that way at Courthouse Silkstocking and they just can't drive all the way down there.

"Well, okay," I'm thinking as they prattle on. Young Princess Pearl had a similar reaction earlier today when I wouldn't let her out of her crate. She was loud.

What they usually do is write a letter, despite being told the court won't accept it. When I get a copy of the letter, I call the clerk and make sure they know I had nothing to do with it.

This is a dark side of practicing law. You really can't even bill for this malarkey without risking a malpractice complaint. But it is EXACTLY why you pay good money for local counsel because they don't waste your money on a learning curve.

Today, I had a young attorney who was at the end of her rope with the court who sent the court a letter telling them that I (ME - Penny) wanted to change the date of a hearing (currently scheduled for tomorrow) to get a temporary order changing visitation. She told them that I (ME - Penny!) believed it would take three hours. I think she thought the court would take it a bit more seriously if the guardian ad litem wanted this lengthy hearing. Trust me when I tell you that never in a hundred years would it cross my mind that a hearing like this would take three hours. Or that the court would authorize it.

I was less offended that she would misstate my position than horrified that the court would be given the impression that I would ever say such a thing.

I was immediately on the telephone with her.

I try to be diplomatic. I say, "I don't recall saying that the hearing needed to be three hours."

"Oh sorry," she said,"How long do you think we need?"

"Well," I say," the court regularly schedules motions for thirty minutes. Chances are, they wouldn't even have a day available for thirty minutes until two or three weeks before the trial. A three hour TRIAL would probably not be scheduled until September and since we have a trial scheduled in May, I don't see the court giving us a date for a three hour slot before then."

"Oh," sez she, "When I filed the hearing for tomorrow, they got it scheduled, right away." (the smug tone in her voice tells me that she thinks I don't know what I am talking about).

"I just got off the phone with the clerk," sez I, "I asked them how much time they'd scheduled us for, tomorrow."

"How much?" asks she. (mind you, she should know this).

"Seven minutes," sez me.

"Oh," sez she, "I assumed they gave us the whole afternoon. Maybe I should just cancel the whole hearing. This is just ridiculous. Could you call them and tell them to just pull it off the docket."

"Here's the number," sez I, "Press 6 if you get the voice mail to get to a live person. But they'll want something in person..."

"Can you take care of that?"

And here we go, again.


Paula said...

At least the job doesn't get too monotonous, does it? Love the pics of the girls, of course.


Linda said...

Grrrrr. And you know you'll have to do this again and again and again. . .No wonder you like to have such wonderful company when you get home! What a great stressbuster your two puppies are!
Lurking Linda