Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Suitcoat Hides the Flop Sweat

It was just supposed to be an easy morning in the halls of justish. A quick order entered here, a case management there and an uncontested motion to wrap it all up followed by an afternoon of paperwork and deposition preparation.

Let’s just say that it didn’t go as hoped.

I was prepared for a little complication as everything that I had to do was at the same time, so I arrived early to put attorney holds on cases so that I could be late. That’s when I got to what was going to be my third courtroom of the day to find out that my uncontested motion wasn’t on the court call. The clerk quickly sorted out the problem: it was missing from the court docket. He told me to talk to the law clerk and get it all straightened out. I said I would after my other two matters.

Now, for those of you not practicing in the Daley Center, the elevators are a mess. In simple terms, you can’t get there from here. I was on a floor in the mid-twenties and I had to get to the mid-teens, which are not served by the same groups of elevators. In order to most expeditiously do this, I used two different elevator trips: down 16 floors then up 8 (editors note: the seventh floor connects to all banks of elevators in the building). It gets complicated when it gets crowded. Again, this was just foreshadowing on the crap that was coming.

Off to the next courtroom. Thankfully in and out without a hitch. Back to the elevator funshow for three trips to go 11 floors: 14 to 17, 17 to 23, 23 to 25 (going down, to go back up is a risky proposition during rush hour). The second courtroom was also in and out without a problem. Back to the final courtroom again where I got stuck in at the end of the call.

“Counsel you want to explain to me what is going with this case?” And off I went attempting to brief the Court of the actual progress only to be interrupted: “This isn’t in the orders. I have no idea what’s going on with this case...” The Judge proceeds to berate me for the next five minutes on how the orders are poorly drafted, the pace of this case, the fact that my opposing counsel didn’t show up, how the weather is gloomy and the fact that my handwriting is bad. I was sent from the Courtroom to call the opposing counsel and inform him of what was happening.

By the time I was done talking to my opposing counsel (who I like and get along with real well), the judge has retreated to chambers.

And the berating began yet again.

It just seems that I couldn’t do anything right for this Judge on this case. The teachable moment is that even if you are in a pre-trial conference with the judge and you are told exactly what to write in the orders and what needs to be done by the have not done enough.

I’m a big kid and I take my lectures standing up (while sweating profusely beneath my suit).

Again I am told what to write in the order and sent from the judge’s presence to carry out these judicial wishes. I’m sitting in the courtroom, after being told by the court clerk that I have to wait until the judge returns so that the order can be reviewed. The judge finally shows up, reads the order, makes one final pronouncement about how I’ve screwed up and enters the order. What should have taken about 30 seconds ended up taking nearly an hour.

The afternoon was nowhere near as stress inducing. Except for finding out that one of your key disclosed experts is about to get hauled off to the nearest federal prison and will not be returning anytime soon.

Litigation is awesome. Never forget that.