In Harris County, each of the two dozen civil district judges take a two and a half week ancillary docket assignment wherein they listen to all the emergency hearings and temporary restraining orders (TRO) for that period. If one is granted, it is then sent to the appropriate designated court for the temporary injunction (TI) hearing in 14 days.
Did you know about this docket? They don’t teach this stuff in law school.
I now firmly know the difference between a TRO and a TI. For starters, TI is a rapper. Ha ha, I so funny.
Anyway, a glamorized Law & Order example of an emergency hearing: Child needs a blood transfusion. Parents, of the Jehovah’s Witness faith, will not allow it. A emergency ex parte hearing is required to grant the hospital authority to proceed with the transfusion.
They’re usually not so exciting. Today, it was foreclosure injunctions, enforcing non-compete agreements, preventing transfers of assets, and the like.
I still learned a lot, though. Here’s the thing. The judges do not receive any pleadings until five minutes (if even that!) before the hearing proceeds.Speaking slowly and laying out a digestible predicate roadmap has never been more important. I’m not an aural learner, and by the time some attorneys hit point 5, I was still mulling over point 1. :(
I don’t doubt this problem affects judges too.
Note to future self: Take your time. Enunciate. Maybe try to first explain the TRO to Mother.
I can barely explain the difference between issues of law and issues of fact to my brother, R.
I don’t know if attorneys have been overdosing on holiday turkey tryptophan or what, but I’ve been seeing some really terrible filings lately. I’m talking simple defaults missing every necessary affidavit, or today’s favorite: a MSJ on an issue that wasn’t even pleaded by opposing counsel.
I’ve always held the highest regard for attorneys, but my glittery vision chips away a little more every time someone expects me to make sense of their 20 page saga.
I want to send back all of their documents with a big sad face drawn on them. Or a check minus (✔-) like teachers used to do in elementary school. Maybe that will hit home better. Because denying the motions certainly ain’t doing it!
… which brings me to the BEST response to a demand letter ever committed to letterhead. I don’t know of its authenticity, but it sure is satisfying to read.
We get a fair share of imprisoned pro se litigants at Court 81*, and I enjoy reading the motions with gleeful masochistic pleasure.
A small percentage of these court documents actually display a passable understanding of the law and raise meritorious claims, but these, of course, don’t make for interesting stories.
A much larger allotment of these litigants misinterpret the purpose of lawsuits and exhibit poor comprehension of basic grammar. Underscores and parentheses aren’t meant to be decorative markings. Just sayin’.
I, John Doe, As Certifyed a True And, Correct of the “Stated foregoings” has been served by pLacing , (Mail) IN, Postal Service “Postage-Paid”.
There’s something really ominous and sarcastic-sounding about putting those words in quotation marks, no?
When friends share casual anecdotes of so-and-so from law school snagging his/her first career job, I get fits of jealousy and rage. Not because I had applied for that job and was passed over, no, and not even because it was a job I would even want had I known about it.
I’m green eyed because this so-and-so went through the application and interview process and someone along the way decided, “Yes, I specifically choose to employ and pay this one very person.”
J thinks this resentment is silly, and I’d agree. I’m actually truly ecstatic for everyone who finds a job in this economic atmosphere, and besides, I have a very specific vision of my own career. It’s just trying at times to not feel like I should be at a better place in my life at 26. I was never supposed to be unemployed, and I definitely was never supposed to be waitressing. After law school, at that.
I’m thankful I have good people around me to keep life in perspective, both directly and indirectly.
There’s this one text message I keep in my phone sent from an unknown coworker. I never bothered to figure out who it was from, but that’s not important. It reads:
Just wanted to invite you out […] Dress well […] The manager is anti Ed Hardy and grunge.
I don’t know what it is about that message that is so metaphysical to me. I read and reread it when I’m down, and something tells me I’ll be OK.
I don’t know why it is, but you just can’t tell people you don’t eat dessert. They look at you like you just spat on a blind gramma and kicked over her seeing eye dog. I simply prefer another plate of food over sweets!
At weddings, or even worse - work birthdays, I get a moment of social anxiety when I’m supposed to find a way to graciously decline cake or mysteriously disappear for 15 minutes until everyone has passed around a plate.
Try as I might though, I can’t seem to avoid cake on my own birthday.
I turned 26 today and Judge 81* took the court staff out for a holiday/birthday lunch. There’s no way out from a piece of cake with a fizzing sparkler on top so I ate about a third before smooshing the rest around on the plate to look like I gave a good faith effort.
I’ll know you’re a true friend if you give me a birthday baked potato next year.
Before I attended USC, I watched all of ONE football game. I’d consider myself a recent convert (though it’s already been SEVEN years since my first USC football season), but I only care for college football, and even then, I’m most interested in the PAC10 teams.
I miss the Coliseum
front row at the Stanford Weekender game
To me, the sport is all about gathering 3 hours early to line up at the Coliseum and pumping my victory sign in the other team’s face (Fight on!) so I never bothered to learn the rules. I get your basic offense, defense, special teams, scoring, and positions, but I can’t tell you how many people there are on the field, and I suspect I can’t explain a “down,” either.
I’m learning, though, through unconventional associations.
J and I were watching the Texans/Ravens game when the announcer remarked that the Texans lost a timeout. I didn’t recall them taking one after their challenge so I asked, “Wait, why did they lose one? Do you always lose one after making a challenge?” J answered, “If you lose the challenge.” Without hesitation, I concluded, “Oh! Like a no-contest clause in a will!”
In high school I was guilty of severely overtweezing my eyebrows. It was just a habit - I couldn’t stand in front of the bathroom mirror without removing hair. Before I knew it, I had brow-rexia. I was convinced my brows were hairy caterpillars when realistically, they were more akin to a pencil line.
Yeah, that bad.
Since then, unless an errant hair is literally growing out the tip of my nose, I will not hold a tweezer to my face. But then I’ve heard that waxing too often can lead to loss of hair growth on that region, and I don’t want become one of those old ladies with no eyebrows and has to draw them on to avoid looking like an alien. Greatest fear.
Because of this, I tend to wait 3 months between every appointment, but by that time my brows get so unruly the esthetician will always look at my face, purse her lips, and frown. :(
There’s no winning this follicle battle.
Anyway, I”m pretty certain no one comes to my page to read up on my beauty regimen, so let’s get to the good stuff:
Pursuits in Pro Se
After getting his case dismissed by a plea to the jurisdiction, a pro se party mailed us a motion that read:
The “subject” of this suit was the assault on my person. The “matter” is the “subject” for which someone should be responsible for. This happened in Harris County so this court has “jurisdiction.” There is a subject, there is a matter, there is jurisdiction.
Good try, guy.
At his hearing, he argued to the Court that it was not right to dismiss his case. He said Judge 81* was not following the “rules.”
x: See, according to Rule 12 of the Federal—
81*: Federal rules? No, no. This is a state court. Federal rules don’t apply here.
x: You don’t understand. Let me explain it to you. It’s under the Constitution. The Constitution is the highest power. Then comes federal law. Then comes state law. Then comes city law. Then the county. You can use federal rules here.
81*: Er… no. Regardless, the other party is not here right now so—
x: Then they DEFAULT.
81*: That’s really not how it works.
After five minutes of unintelligible banter, we finally understood that this man had appealed his case to the Court of Appeals, but they were unable to go forward to create a reporter’s records because he had neither paid the $100 fee nor filed an affidavit of indigency.
81*: This is easy enough to fix. I understand you already filed an affidavit of indigency to proceed in this trial court, but you need to file another one for your appeal. Did you send an affidavit to the Court of Appeals?
x: No, that’s their job. I don’t believe in doing other people’s jobs.
81*: But you understand your appeal cannot proceed without this—
x: We’ll see how long it takes them to do it. They’re not following the rules.
A: What do you know about horses? B: Uh. Not much. I know they eat a lot? A: Have you ever ridden a horse? B: Yes, once. A: So you’re familiar with such terms as bridle and saddle? B: Yes. A: I’m going to read you a sentence. Tell me what you think it means. “Before a mare feeds a newborn foal, it must be sure the food is not too hot.” B: Well, a mare is a female horse. A foal is a baby horse. And uh… the food shouldn’t be too hot. A: OK. I pass the witness.
I don’t think this is how you’re supposed to conclude cross examination of a breach of option contract witness.
vore dyer (that's voir dire to everyone outside TX)
Before this position with Judge 81*, I’d only seen half a voir dire. Now I can claim exposure to two more.
[for my non legal-minded friends, voir dire is the process of jury selection to find those who could be impartial to the parties, facts, and issues of the case so that neither party begins with an unfair advantage/disadvantage… although it appears that crafty wording during voir dire can create subliminal biases amidst the panel, but I’ll save that Inception theory for another day…]
Outside the Trial Advocacy course, law students don’t get much instruction with this process, and even then, students practice a mock voir dire in front of a venire panel of their own peers. I readily admit that I don’t understand the fine art of jury selection. It’s a shame, really, since it’s so crucial to know which members of the jury are half consciously already rooting for your side.
Mitchell Katine was set to argue back-to-back jury trials in Judge 81’s* courtroom, so I took it as an opportunity to compare his style and conduct between the two trials. Specifically, I was interested in his method of panel questioning and what kind of jurors he was looking to strike in each case. [I’d like to take a second to interject and tell you all what an amazing and impressive and inspiring attorney Mr. Katine is!]
As he was carrying along, I envisioned myself in his place and mentally struck the jurors I didn’t think should be on the jury. I ended up striking, like, the entire panel. Oops. Better luck next time.
But now I know: 1) The first 10 minutes is a more or less show for the panel. Thank you for sacrificing your time. I always want to be put in the jury box but I never get selected. We all have biases. That is why this process is so very important. And 2) I need to discover my own story to explain bias and the necessity of voir dire. After that, I’m good to go!
I still don’t know what are the “right” questions to ask. I don’t get it. I’m supposed to stand around and let people say uneducated nonsense such as, “I don’t like lawyers. We don’t need people telling other people what their rights are,” or “We were told to paint our house some urf [earth] color. But when we bought it, they says it wasn’t th’ right one. So we had ta paint it again. Some other urf color. So I don’t like home owners associations,” or “I had friends in college who became lawyers. It screws up their mind. I don’t like ‘em anymore. Lawyers are unnecessary. So I founded a group called “Humans Against Legal Tyranny. HALP. But I’m encouraging my son to go into the legal professional.” <- what the what?
And as far as I perceive, voir dire is just some procedure where every person is allowed a couple minutes to release their inner bigot.
And isn’t that exactly what voir dire’s all about?