Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Slice Of Judicial Economy With Chuckles On Top

I take no credit for finding this gem. All credit goes to Minor Wisdom and May It Please The Court. I learned about this from reading their blawgs.

Here's the story: The lawyers to a civil dispute cannot agree on the place where depositions should be held. One party files a motion to have the court set the location for the depositions. So, the presiding federal judge, Gregory Presnell, makes the ingenous move of ordering the parties to settle the dispute through a game of paper, rock scissors. Winner gets to pick the deposition location.

The order is a real gas. It reads:


ORDER


This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to designate location of a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition (Doc. 105). Upon consideration of the Motion – the latest in a series of Gordian knots that the parties have been unable to untangle without enlisting the assistance of the federal courts – it is


ORDERED that said Motion is DENIED. Instead, the Court will fashion a new form of alternative dispute resolution, to wit: at 4:00 P.M. on Friday, June 30, 2006, counsel shall convene at a neutral site agreeable to both parties. If counsel cannot agree on a neutral site, they shall meet on the front steps of the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, 801 North Florida Ave., Tampa, Florida 33602. Each lawyer shall be entitled to be accompanied by one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness. At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of "rock, paper, scissors." The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County during the period July 11-12, 2006. If either party disputes the outcome of this engagement, an appeal may be filed and a hearing will be held at 8:30 A.M. on Friday, July 7, 2006 before the undersigned in Courtroom 3, George C. Young United States Courthouse and Federal Building, 80 North Hughey Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32801.


DONE and ORDERED in Chambers,


Orlando, Florida on June 6, 2006.


What a hoot! And, what a judicious way of settling the dispute. This judge probably saved the parties a bunch of money by eliminating what I can only imagine would have been one of those drawn-out, hard-to-control, bickering, whiny-laden, cross-accusation-making, both-sides-being unreasonable, hearings. I have been witness to far too many of those types of disputes as a judge's law clerk and as a lawyer sitting in the back of the courtroom waiting for my hearing to start. These types of petty motions are almost impossible to make a "well reasoned" ruling on. The decisions themselves usually end up being decided on some ground that is just as arbitrary as paper, rock, scissors. So, well done Judge Presnell! And, how symbolic - settling a childish dispute with a child's game.

This story is a reminder that lawyers can be prone to take things, and themselves, way too seriously. We need a story like this from time to remind us to lighten up and not to get so petty. Who knows, with a ruling from your judge, your dispute could get you national attention. And, I'm glad to see that there are judges that also recognize when its time to taker a lighter approach to their jobs.

Press link:

Court orders lawyers to play game

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