Sunday, March 08, 2009

The overdue brief

I wasn't planning on retiring after posting the 1,000th post, although I could understand how the subsequent silence might create that impression....

See, I was expecting to "punch up" a brief that a colleague was supposed to file in the Appellate Court here before the end of February. Originally, my function was to be a sort of 'script doctor' -- adding a cite here or there, refining a bit of analysis if and where necessary.

Then I read the draft.

Or tried to.

It was essentially unreadable. Because she was very busy -- and because I cost too much -- my colleague had originally farmed the brief out to a law student.

I got called in anyway after my colleague saw his initial effort. The kid wanted to debate the finer points of the insurance coverage issue with us... but he couldn't be bothered to prepare the required Index to the Record on Appeal or tie factual assertions to actual pages in the Record. And the best part? When my colleague and I met with this kid -- in January -- to discuss these things, he copped an attitude with us. Just because we have some 60 years of legal experience and 100 or more appellate briefs between us, how dare we presume to give him constructive criticism?

Well, anyway, since I'm still expensive, the plan was that my colleague would work on revising the Statement of Facts (perhaps the most crucial part of any brief) while I'd review the cases and formulate the argument. The law student, meanwhile, was to prepare an index. We told him that we'd get back to him after that. I burned his phone number.

Meanwhile I moved on to other things... waiting for that updated draft... waiting... waiting.... Meanwhile the court had decided that the latest February due date would be the "final" date.

Ordinarily this means no additional extensions -- at least not without a lot of groveling.

And then, finally, I was told I'd get the draft two weekends ago. And I did. But the Statement of Facts was still awful. But now, I thought, I was looking at my colleague's work product, and I worry that I'm too critical. So, tentatively, cautiously, I mentioned in an email that there were no cites to the Record in the Statement of Facts and... just asking... might there be another, later draft in which some of these holes had been filled in?

Well, another draft came attached to the reply and I looked at it... and there were some cites... and they didn't make any sense. And even the Index to the Record was woefully incomplete. And the brief was due in 24 hours.

I asked my colleague to start grovelling. She was on deadline on another brief, but she undertook to file the motion after I told her I going to have to throw everything out and start from scratch. I'd have to at least read the Record... and that was over 2,700 pages.

So I should have been working on the brief the entire last week of February when I was preparing the 1000th post business. But that was one of the things I had to clear off my desk so I could devote my undivided attention to the brief. And since last Saturday, that's all I've been doing. Almost.

And I hope to have the chance to talk about some of that as soon as tomorrow.

In the meantime, the brief is done. And I found out why the "revised" Statement of Facts was so terrible. My colleague had never found the time to get back to it. It was what the law student turned in in the first place....


Shelby said...

"It was what the law student turned in in the first place..."

I knew this is what would happen.

But hey - it's not just the attitudely over zealous law student that doesn't cite. Opposing counsel in one of our cases last month submitted an appellate brief with no cites.

I kid you not.

Actually - there's more. First he never served us with a copy. Also, the Court clerk didn't show that they received their copy by their deadline.

Finally, after about a week, the Court rec'd their copy in the mail (some kind of shady story that the post office lost it).. but the one they finally rec'd wasn't signed. So, they sent a notice for the other lawyer to file a copy with a signature. I guess they finally got theirs, we have yet to recieve a signed copy.

But hey, we have the unsigned one with the lack of cites.

On to the next I guess.

Anonymous said...

You should never put off until tomorrow that which you can avoid altogether.

And if you can't avoid it write a blog post instead.....

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

two words come to mind curmy...

bill her

smiles, bee

The Beach Bum said...

Curmudgeon -

I am elated to see that you are back on the Blogosphere. For a while, I was fearing for the worst and hoping that it was a work issue and not a health issue.

As to your topic, my Dad always told me "that you get what you pay for; no more - no less." His simple rule was "If you can't afford to go First Class - don't go at all."

The Beach Bum