04 November 2005

Moments in Court

I'm in the local law library and there is a guy asking the librarian questions about how get a case from Utah and see if there are any similar cases in Virginia. I take him over to the computer and show him how to do it on WestLaw. Then he starts talking to me about his problems with his business partners and how he needs "a lawyer who isn't beholden to the local power structure." He looks at me and alarm bells start ringing. I beg off pleading absolute ignorance of any type of law outside the criminal field.

A couple days later I go to the circuit court and there's a civil matter going on before I'm due. I walk in and it's Library Guy having a go at it pro se and he is all over the judge:
" . . . And, I want to note my appeal right now, 'cuz I know how you're gonna rule. Even though you should find in my favor because (waving at empty table) no one has even bothered to come to court to oppose. I note my appeal right now."

Judge: "You've sued me Mr. Smith. Should I even be hearing this case?"

"No, you shouldn't. In fact, you shouldn't have heard any of this and if you knew what you were doing you'd know you shouldn't ever have had anything to do with the case.
At this point I look up and wonder how much time Library Guy is going to get for contempt. However, the judge is in "patience of Job mode."1 He looks up and comments:
"Mr. Smith, you can raise insulting to an art form . . ."

Library Guy: "I wasn't being ins . . .

"Now hold on, remember our agreement. I don't talk when you talk and you don't talk when I talk. You had your chance to speak - now it's my turn. I'm taking this case under advisement and I'll have to determine whether I can hear the case or not. Court will now take a 5 minute recess and then we will hear Mr. Lammers' matter."
The judge then stands up and leaves the courtroom before Library Guy can say anything else.

Y'know, most of the time I think it would be great to be a judge, but every once in a while I get this feeling that even judges have rough days.

1 This is a special behavior which judges must be trained in when they first take the bench. However, it is generally reserved for young attorneys who are given dispensation while they figure things out and pro se participants.

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