Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Idiocy is everywhere, including in the legal world. Fairly regularly, I have to appear at conferences for my cases and hash out ridiculous document requests with my adversaries. Conferences sound fancy, but they are anything but. In reality, a court conference in New York usually involves entering a cattle-call of a room, filled with attorneys yelling out their case names in the desperate hope that their adversaries are all present. The call time for today's (and most) conference was 9:30 am, but I don't think all of my adversaries were there until 10:30, the earliest. This was still quite an accomplishment; in some courthouses, I have seen people show up at 11:30 or later without any consequences. In some ways, it makes sense to show up late. You don't have the hastle or time-suck of waiting for your adversaries and, as already mentioned, there are no consequences. But I like to think of myself as a professional, so if call time is 9:30, I'm there five minutes early.
At these conferences, once you find your adversaries, the first step is to try to work out whatever issues you may have. You do this on a form that essentially becomes the conference order, i.e., a document signed by the judge that proclaims what needs to be done and by what timeline. Sometimes, we can work out most of the details ourselves. For instance, in this case, I had demanded some documents in early June, so I put in the order that the defendants would have to answer in 30 days. They had no problem with that, so we were done and done.
But other times, you get nitpicking adversaries that either are too stupid or otherwise are trying to play games, and therefore ask for the most ridiculous things. That happened today. It's a minor thing, at best, but it was still insane.
The defendants had requested two things in one of their prior demands (a written document mailed to one's adversary requesting, usually, documents relevant to the case). The demands were: (1) a list of all medical care providers and (2) authorizations for the providers. This is standard, very standard. Whenever there is an injury, of course the other side would be entitled to authorizations and information about the medical care providers, so that they could obtain medical records and assess the situation. Me, being a great guy, got the defendants the response almost immediately. Fortunately, the great majority of my cases are very good cases, and this case in particular should be a walk in the park, so I do everything very quickly to move the case along. (For a reminder on why plaintiffs want to move cases quickly and why defendants benefit from intentionally delaying litigation, check out THIS POST).
So, we are sitting in the court room, haggling over this and that, when my adversary finally makes a request. "You didn't fully answer our demand." "What? What didn't I answer?" This came as a surprise to me, but I was open to the idea that perhaps I missed something. "We asked for a list of doctors. You didn't provide that." "I gave you the authorizations for all doctors. It's right behind my response, attached. Look," I took the response from her hands and turned the page, "right here and here." "Well, how do I know that those are all of the doctors. I need a list." I turned back to the front page, "See, right here, it says, 'Attached are authorizations for all medical care providers.'" The woman didn't get it, or more likely, she was just being a piggish jerk, "But we asked for a list. Why didn't you answer the demand. I need a list." I finally turned around (we were sitting in rows of seats and she was behind me when she first started this line of conversation).
"Are you serious?" She stared at me blankly. I continued. "Are you really asking me to go through the two authorizations and write it out as a list. This isn't something you could somehow work out at your office, you know, looking at the authorizations and copying the information into a list? You really want me to do that. You wanted the authorizations and a list, but the authorizations are a list."
"Fine! We'll ask the clerk." When you hit a stalemate, you ask the judge's law clerk, and they do some rough justice. If they know what they are doing, great, but a lot of the times, they decide by the seat of their pants....and that is why I had to return to my office to write a list of the two doctors my client saw. What fucking idiocy.
Of course, the adversary also had the gall to either lie to me or the clerk. The adversary wanted to push back some deposition dates. Depositions are basically sessions where the opposing party gets to ask questions of your witness in front of a court reporter. It is, in my estimation, the biggest and most important part of discovery because you get answers immediately, without the filter of opposing counsel, and most facts are in people's heads, not on paper. I had set the dates for September, in order to allow us all to enjoy a vacation-heavy August. She wanted it pushed to October. For the record, I knew almost instinctively that this was all her attempt to drag the litigation out (check out that previously-linked post for her reasons to delay litigation).
"Why can't you do it in September?" I asked.
"We are really busy that month. Our calendar is nuts. We don't have anyone available."
First off, she knows now, in June, that her calendar in September is full for the entire month! Bullshit! But, okay, maybe things are a bit nuts for her. Regardless, I insisted that we bring the issue to the clerk. We haggled over other issues and finally saw the clerk.
I, being the gentleman that I am, let the adversary explain the situation, since it was she who was seeking a change. Her story was different, though: "We would like depositions moved to October." The clerk asked, "Why October? Why can't you do it in September?" This is when the adversary's story changed, "We need his employment records before his deposition. They are very important to our defense." I thought, "WHAT?! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR BUSY CALENDAR, YOU LYING SCUMBAG!" Instead, though, I said this: "No problem. We'll get you the employment authorization within 7 days (it was already in the order that I would provide it in 30). My quick thinking worked. The adversary's weak excuse was negated by my "kindness." I guess it pays to think on your toes.
After conferences like that, I am always amazed at the way defense counsel acts (for the record, I am sure they think the same things about me...they just happen to be wrong). This bitch wants to give me shit because she is too stupid to create a list from two authorizations. Then she lies to either me or the clerk in a pathetic effort to drag out litigation. I can guarantee you dollars-to-donuts that she will delay the deposition beyond September anyway. But she still has to play those stupid games.
My career attracts a lot of assholes, but it attracts douschebag morons just as much.
Until next time, make mine poker!
posted by Jordan @ 1:44 PM,
- At 8:00 PM, KenP said...
Bull! I have it from a very good authority -- Joan Rivers -- that you poker players are a far worse lot.
- At 1:40 AM, Sleech said...
It's posts like this that make me glad that I twiddle ones and zeros all day long.