One Day As an Appearance Attorney

Wake up at 6 AM, down two bottles of water.  You don’t eat breakfast on this day, because you’ve made a ritual of not eating breakfast during the days you appear before a judge.  The first and only time you tried it went badly, and you learn from your mistakes.

Next comes the kids.  The youngest is up first, then the eldest.  You make them both breakfast, and have a talk with each.  In the meantime, you’re preparing your files for the day ahead of you.

Drop the kids off on getting them ready with spouse’s help.  You then head back, down a Bolthouse Farms’ glass of Green Machine juice as a “breakfast” since you’re trying to evolve along with the requisite supplements you’ve learned help jog your memory and bring your cognitive abilities together, then you hop in the SUV and head to court after a cold shower and decking yourself out in a nice suit.

Parking is $8 for what will account to two hours’ time in the building. You resoundingly curse as you insert the credit card, get the ticket, and place it on the dash because the people who run the lot are assholes that will boot your car the moment they suspect shenanigans with your parking pass.  After paying and grabbing the briefcase and file folder, you head to court.

The courthouse is full of sights and smells alien and fearful to the layperson.  To me, it’s like welcoming an old friend into my home.  There’s the slight tinge of must from mold emerging somewhere in the building, possibly in the holding cells at the basement where alleged “cons” are held pending arraignment via video magistrate.  A nice, easy din of vocal chatter as I head down the hallway lined with glass to the main foyer where voting booths are set up that don’t open until noon.  I know the courtrooms in which I must appear and have made phone calls the day prior to both judicial assistants, letting them know I’ve got the Houdini-like task of appearing in two places at the same time.

They all have my back.  They always do.  In a shitshow like a local Bar, the assistants take care of those who treat them well.  It’s one reason I know every clerk by name and keep birthdays in a special calendar for each.  It’s why when Christmas comes around every clerk gets a Christmas Card with a special thank you note from me.

First stop is the courtroom with the judge who has an axe to grind and loves the respect.  By the way, I should mention at this point I’m not really on these cases as an attorney of record.  I’m just covering for an attorney who didn’t either decide or want to come from their home state to get a simple judgment taken care of.  At any rate, when I appear in front of the first Judge, I express deep regret for the attorney who “couldn’t make it,” because this judge loves propriety and has a fondness for respecting her robe.  The bailiff calls the Defendant’s name twice outside the court.  Hearing no response, I ask for a default.  The jurist grants it, signs the order, and hands me the file to get a copy for the attorney whose ass I just saved.

The file doesn’t go to the Clerk just yet.  I take a detour into Courtroom #2, where I’ve spoken with the judicial assistant the day before.  She’s flagged my file so the judge knows I’ve been in another court first thing.  Unfortunately for me, that means I’m waiting until the judge hears everything else.

I wait and get to hear another attorney whose opposing counsel on a case I’m working.  Never met this person before, but within minutes I know who this attorney is and that this attorney has real difficulties actually presenting a cogent case before a judge.  I keep a few notes as extra ammo in one of several black notebooks I carry, then get my few shots in for the second default of the day.

After the bailiff calls the Defendant’s name twice with no response, I get my second win of the day.  I go celebrate with a steak.

For the two appearances, I earned less than $100.  That’s cool by me.  I did it more for the court time and the chance to write about it than anything else.  I think most of all, I just missed having the ability to turn the screws in a low-cost, low-stress manner for people who needed a little help getting closure on a case.

Because the clients come and go, but the people in the Bar you work with until you retire or drop dead.

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