Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It can't ALL be stress and anxiety....

I fully understand and appreciate that clients get nervous and uptight where court hearins are concerned. Anxiety over their case can certainly translate into a state approaching genetic stupidity.
I can buy that.

But c'mon.
Some people are just plain stupid.

Evidence: I sat in court today and watched an attorney argue for confirmation of his clients' Chapter 13 case. (For the uninitiated: The confirmation hearing is a hearing that takes place to give all sides a place to "air grievances" and to allow the Judge to rule on these issues. It is the time/place where the Judge puts the final stamp of approval on the Chapter 13 case so that it can go forward.)

So, as I said, I'm sitting watching this attorney argue with the Chapter 13 Trustee's attorney and a creditor's attorney over different issues. Other attorneys in the courtroom are all checking their watches, as we all have better places to be.
Finally, these issues are all resolved and the Judge asks one further question. The attorney asks for a moment to consult with his client.

And thus it begins.

He talks.

And talks.

And talks some more.

The Judge takes this opportunity to blow his nose.

And still they're talking.

Finally, after what must have been over five minutes, the attorney steps back to the microphone and after apologizing to the Court for the time spent, says that in the interest of judicial economy, he has to alert the Court that his clients just can't make the case work and are going to allow the case to dismiss. The Judge complies and dismisses the case.

Here's what happened: Apparently the debtors owed nearly $20,000 in mortgage arrears. Their Chapter 13 Plan indicated they were going to let the house go to the bank. This Plan was filed in November 2007. Apparently, the husband and wife don't ever discuss their individual intentions regarding the house. Now, sitting at the table in court, the wife says, "Yes, we're going to let the house go," while the husbands says, "WHAT?! I'm not giving up my house." The attorney eventually says, "Fine...you don't want to give up the house, and these arrears make your plan infeasibile, so you're OK with dismissing the case?" and the debtors agree.

Cut to the hallway outside the courtroom.

The debtors proceed to take the attorney apart because "they only had thirty seconds" in which to make this important decision.

Never mind they've had two full months.

Never mind that they were the ones that fell behind on their mortgage in the first place.

Never mind that they were the ones that couldn't decide on a unified intention.

It's all the attorney's fault.

Let the castigation begin!

The finger-pointing went on for at least ten minutes until the wife stormed from the courthouse in tears.
And all the attorney could do was sit there and wonder WHY he ever went to law school.

That, incidentally, is the same question I ask myself at least four times a week.

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