Never Underestimate The Opposition Attorney

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

When I was a teenager, I attended a program in Washington D.C. in the law.  Though I had wanted to be an attorney for about seven years at that point, I had actually applied to be in a program regarding national politics, but that was full, so I went to the legal program instead.

The program was very interesting.  We visited a juvenile correction facility, we went to the local District of Columbia courts, we visited the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, and though I cannot remember exactly because I’ve been a number of times, the Supreme Court and Congress. However, I recall in particular one visit to a public defender in the local courts.  On each visit, someone gave a presentation and the students were able to interact with the presenter.

The attorney with the public defender’s office made a great impression on me. This attorney had the passion and zeal of a true believer.  He said that people asked how he could sleep at night defending criminals.   He said “like a baby.”   He made one student, whose uncle was murdered, cry. He spit venom on many occasions, most memorably against non-public defender appointed attorneys whom he labeled as “soup-on-their-tie lawyers.”

Soup-on-their-tie lawyers.  Meaning, a slovenly attorney, from a ninth-tier law school, who barely passed the bar exam, of questionable ethics and practices, who was never prepared, always took the short cut.  The image of that lawyer is burnt into my brain.  At one of my previous employers, this kind of attorney was referred to as a “generic discipline-able attorney.”

As I grow older, however, let me caution newer attorneys not to underestimate the opposition attorney.  As a society, we have a tendency to overemphasize conventional wisdom.  The person wearing glasses is intelligent. Or on the other side of the coin, someone who looks like they slept in their suit (or spilled soup on their tie) is incompetent.

As a lawyer, you should not underestimate the opposition attorney, even if they have made a few mistakes along the way.  Even the worst attorney in the world sometimes stumbles into a great case.  Remember what my Theory of Knowledge teacher taught me: even a broken clock is right twice a day.  Do not be lulled into a false sense of confidence because of who is opposing you.  You still need to do your homework and do your job.  Particularly if you are a civil defense lawyer. You usually do not get to pick your cases.  The plaintiff’s lawyer usually does get to pick their cases.  Sometimes the case is better than you initially think.  Thinking a good case will go away because of the opposition attorney is an easily avoidable mistake.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
                   Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055

Judicial Council Considering Allowing Courts To Suspend Case Management By Local Rules

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The Judicial Council is considering, and asking for comment on the following change to the California Rules of Court Rule 3.720 to add subdivision (b):

(b) Emergency suspension of rules 26

A court by local rule may exempt specified types or categories of general civil cases filed 28 before January 1, 2016, from the case management rules in this chapter, provided that the 29 court has in place alternative procedures for case processing and trial setting for such 30 actions, including, without limitation, compliance with Code of Civil Procedure sections 31 1141.10 et seq. and 1775 et seq. In any case in which a court sets an initial case 32 management conference, the rules in this chapter apply.

Advisory Committee Comment
Subdivision (b) of this rule is an emergency measure in response to the limited fiscal resources available 37 to the courts as a result of the current fiscal crisis and is not intended as a permanent change in the case 38 management rules.

This first came to my attention at the San Bernardino County Bar Association Board of Directors’ Meeting on Monday, January 14, 2013.  The Judicial Council is asking for review and comment by January 25, 2013, and proposes to implement the proposed rule on February 26, 2013.

The request is in response to the Los Angeles Superior Court and the Sacramento Superior Court because of their responses to the funding problems the courts are having because of the State of California’s budget.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
                   Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055
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