Monday, September 15, 2014
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Today was the third time in a month I've met a client, spoken to them for an hour, and sent them on their way. Free of charge. Why? Because I couldn't help them. In one, I practiced the wrong type of law. In the second, the client just needed some help problem solving. In the third, I was in the wrong county. It's about the third case about which I want to talk.
The client came in today. Her original divorce and custody order was entered in a county in which I practice regularly. Neither she nor her ex-husband live in that county. They live in a county in which I do not practice - ever. It is a small county, with a small legal community. Outsiders are not well received, so I generally stay out. But I digress. This client needs to return to court. She's tried other avenues to resolve her dispute with her child's father, but he won't engage. As it takes two to engage in any voluntary process, she has no choice but to turn to an involuntary one. That leaves her with a choice of courts. Oh really, how much can it matter in which county a case is filed? Plenty. Each court has a different flavor. You see, every bench has a personality. It's part reflective of the community in which they sit: the mores and personality of the people they serve. Part of it has to do with the each of the individual judges and their life experiences and attitudes. Part of it reflects the interactions between the judges. Remember, judges are a legal community of their own. They see each other on a daily basis. They are permitted limited contact with the rest of the legal community, so they band together. They discuss their lives and their cases. They influence each other, many times in subtle ways. Only someone who knows the judges, the bench and the community they serve can decide whether that community is likely to look favorably upon his or her client. Know your client, then know your court. It's part of what we do. Here in the Trenches.