Thursday, February 17, 2011

At least I didn't get past the lobby....

Have you ever had a snake-bit case?

I realize that most of the people who might happen upon this blog aren't lawyers, so that's probably a dumb question.

But have you ever had a task, a project, an assignment where absolutely nothing is done right the first time?

I have a matter now pending in the Appellate Court that fits this description. The very pendency of this matter in the Appellate Court is a dead giveaway. But a case doesn't become snake-bit just because a judge makes a decision that I disagree with.

In thinking about this piece, I thought about detailing all the stupid, nonsensiscal, just-plain-dumb mistakes I've made on this one case -- mild stuff, like sending out a bill without including all of the expenses (which means I ate them) -- to more fundamental, tactical decisions (I should have filed two suits, not one, and let the defendants argue they should be consolidated). In this case, the Circuit Court Clerk failed to call me when the appellate record was assembled so that I was unable to verify that stuff that should have been included in the record was included. It wasn't. (This problem was correctable, and was corrected.)

I thought about listing all of the many things that had gone wrong on this matter but it occurred to me that such a litany would and could identify only this case and my cherished anonymity would be out the window. (And I might have wound up breaching the attorney client privilege in the bargain. In this case, that would almost be a dead-cinch certainty.)

Suffice it to say, then, that if the copier had a misfeed, it was printing something for this case. If the printer jammed when making envelopes, it was stuck on the service list in this case. If I got a paper cut, from one piece of paper in all the mounds of paper that weigh down this Undisclosed Location, it would be from a paper I'd forgot to file in this case. (And then, when I'd staunched the flow of blood, I'd be unable to find the offending paper to put it where it belonged.)

Yesterday I had a motion to file in the Appellate Court. In this case, of course. It was a housekeeping motion, about something that should never have had to be done in the first place, but that's been the nature of this beast.

The Appellate Court is close by my Undisclosed Location and yesterday felt like the first day of Spring. The Groundhog's Day Blizzard is shriveling away. Of course, the first day of Spring in Chicago does not involve a lot of green. The predominant covers are brown or black as the dirt and pollution and the mud remain behind as the once-pristine white snow melts to an ugly gray.

Anyway, yesterday's motion was for leave to file something. I had the something on my desk. I prepared the motion without incident. I got through Security at the Appellate Court and started pulling my keys and my phone out of the folder in which I'd brought over the motion and that is when I noticed -- the something to be filed, the subject of the motion, was still sitting on my desk, wondering where I'd gone.

Oh, fiddlesticks! I might have said, but did not.

Of course, a phone call I'd been waiting for came in while I was on this fool's errand. I returned the call -- and while I was chatting away, I thought to make the envelopes to send out the copies of the motion. This was accomplished without incident. I thought to put the thing to be filed into my folder. And then I thought to put the stamps on the envelopes. So I took the motions out for just a moment so I could weigh one with the envelope and apply the proper postage.

Out I went again.

I got through Security again and fished out my keys and my phone from the folder and I smiled when I noticed that the thing to be filed was in the folder just where I'd put it -- and my smile faded just as quickly that the motion was no longer there.

Oh tarnation! I might have said, but didn't.

Now, the third time was the charm. I got the motion and the thing to be filed over to the court clerk at the same time.

Now, if this happened to me in every case, you'd say (and I'd agree) that I need a keeper. But it only happens in cases like this one. Cases that are well and truly snake-bit.

But, at least, on these two futile outings, I never got past the building lobby....

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