Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unnecessary Pre-Trial Conferences

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of sitting through a totally unnecessary pre-trial conference. The case had already been settled. The agreements were drawn up. The parties were making their final edits. But the court still required us to show up and conduct the pre-trial conference anyway. To add to our motivations, the court advised us that even though we believed we had a settlement, all of our pre-trial conference documents were due, under threat of sanctions if we didn’t have them with us.

So rather than moving the court date back (which was the end result anyway), all of the attorneys were forced to get together and conference our pre-trial submissions, pre-mark exhibits, exchange witness lists and agree on the issues to be submitted to the court in our pre-trial memoranda of law. In the end, our conference ended up being more comical than substantive and we all took that jovial spirit to the court the next day for our pre-trial conference.

When we got to the courtroom and were ready to do our pre-trial conference, the judge was still engrossed in a trial that had already started and seemed a bit perturbed that we had even shown up. Putting the case in front of him on hold, the judge called us over for a quick sidebar and he asked why we were there, hadn’t we settled the case? When we told him yes, he just shrugged, sent us over to one of his clerks and told him to give us a date in 2015 (so we would have enough time to submit the paperwork and not have to come back and see the judge again on this case).

Somewhere in all this, there was some type of miscommunication. The attorneys got a jovial conference, but we all probably could have used the time for something else.

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