Please help me for a post tomorrow–I need examples

Please send me examples of when a judge or another lawyer has not accommodated you in a continuance or similar request for delay of some sort and therefore required you to gut it out despite a pressing personal or professional problem that was distracting you.  As along as the example really happened, the nastier and the more unreasonable the example the better. Thanks.


22 responses

  1. I’m not sure if this is what you are thinking of but I did ask the Fifth Circuit once to delay argument in a case because I was on maternity leave after my first child was born and still breast feeding. I don’t think i asked for that long a delay, maybe a month? but they were having none of it — it was an en banc argument and they were anxious to reverse i think — and denied the request. I doubted the court thinks of maternity leave as a valid reason for a delay in any case, which is an arguable point. I went to the argument, brought my breast pump with me. It broke on the way there. things were uncomfortable, you might say distracting, as a result. 🙂 They argued amongst themselves during argument, and Judge Jolly, acting as the Chief Judge, had to reprimand some of them to keep them in line and to allow me to answer questions. They kept cutting me off to argue with the questioner. I needn’t have been there at all which is of course sometimes true in these matters.

  2. I represented a woman in an employment discrimination and ADA case in Southern District of New York. Judge had set a discovery deadline. A week before the deadline, client was set to appear for a deposition. But then her mother died suddenly, and I was out of the country. Client was bereft and in mourning, and incapable of dealing with it. Judge said no extension. So I had to get another lawyer for her and she had to show up that week.

    Nasty enough?

  3. Frankly, I’d rather tell of a story where the Judge did help save my marriage by a thoughtful accommodation. Judge Robert Carter, a kind and wise judge, presided over a multi-defendant case involving the killing of a Chinese newsman. I represented a peripheral defendant. When the witness list came out, it looked like witnesses who would be offering testimony against my client would come at a time when my wife had bought plane tickets from NY to San Francisco and paid for a canoe and bicycle tour in the San Juan Islands. She told me to ask Judge Carter if I could leave the trial for a week and have him and the Government reschedule the witnesses. Can you imagine? I wrote a motion after I had gotten the consent of the Government (who agreed not to put a witness on who had anything to do with my client during my absence) and my client (who agreed that a lawyer for a co-defendant with full knowledge of his case and defense could cover), telling Judge Carter he would promote marital bliss if he granted my request. Judge Carter obliged, granting the motion. His words escaped me, but they carried a sense of humor and respect for the lawyers who appeared before him and included a message to my wife. Upon hearing what Judge Carter said and knowing I would not have as good a time as I would if I didn’t have to worry about my client’s case, my wife got the non-refundable money refunded, I stayed in NY and the case went on.

  4. On the day before a hearing on a dispositive motion, the house of my elderly great-aunt and -uncle (who essentially raised me) burned down three states away. I asked my opposing counsel to consent to a continuance of the hearing. He refused. I said to hell with it, sent in a colleague to plead my case or handle the hearing, and left town. The judge who handled the hearing went ballistic against my opposing counsel and threatened to sanction him for violating what he termed “the standards of basic human decency.” He continued the hearing.

  5. I had been stricken with a sudden, fairly severe illness. I drove myself to a local ER in the middle of the night and was admitted and placed in the Intensive Care Unit. A colleague and good friend made the rounds of my docket, explained the circumstances and secured extensions of deadlines from opposing counsel, who were all very accommodating. Well, all except for one lawyer who refused to agree or disagree to an extension of time to respond to a motion for summary judgment in a litigation pending in federal court in the Northern District of Texas that was due in a few days. My colleague came to the hospital and explained the situation. I asked her to call and remind the opposing counsel of her obligations under Dondi (an opinion in NDTX specifically dealing with those kinds of matters between counsel). It was to no avail. I asked my colleague, who was not admitted to the Northern District, to prepare the motion to extend and note in the certificate of conference that counsel had been directly contacted twice, refused to agree or disagree with the motion’s relief and that I was signing the motion from my bed in the ICU (which I did). I don’t believe I have ever had a motion granted so quickly. I’ve also never otherwise experienced such professional discourtesy, either before or since.

  6. We started or new law firm in January 1995. That month, one of my senior partners (I was the junior of the four of us) dropped dead in the office on a Saturday preparing for a trial on Monday. I saw the judge Monday morning to request a continuance because of my partner’s death. The judge insisted that this was a landlord-tenant case and therefore a high priority. I explained that no one else at the firm new the client it had spoken to any of the witnesses. The judge was not moved. I kept pleading. Finally, the judge asked me when the funeral was to be held. I told her the funeral was Thursday, so she set the trial for Friday. Needless to say, I was not as well proposed for trial as I would have liked to be.

  7. I practice law in South Carolina. Fortunately, the bar is very civil as a general rule, but you occasionally run into an exception.

    A few years ago, my law partner’s wife went into labor with their first child a few weeks earlier than expected, which happened to be the day before a dispositive motion was to be heard in state court.

    Accordingly, he dropped everything to be with his wife in the hospital. It was a similar situation to the example above, where he was the only person who knew anything about the case. I e-mailed opposing counsel and explained the situation, requesting a continuance, all in a very friendly tone. (The birth of a child being a happy event). To my surprise, opposing counsel indicated that since my law partner wasn’t “personally having the baby”, they didn’t see what the problem was.

    I forwarded that e-mail exchange to the Court and asked if the Court would like a formal motion for a continuance, as opposing counsel has not consented to our request. Got an e-mail back from the Court fairly quickly: “Continuance granted. Congratulations.”

  8. Judge:
    A story told to me about a lawyer who was arguing a case in Brooklyn Supreme Court. Apparently, the lawyer was expected at the same time in federal court on Long Island. While in the middle of his Brooklyn trial, federal marshals entered the courtroom, placed him under arrest (including handcuffing him), put him in a car, drove him directly to federal court and deposited him in front of the federal judge who had ordered his arrest. The only comment by the federal judge in question after the handcuffs were removed? “Call your next witness.”

  9. I was trying a case in Civil Court concerning a contract with less than 25K at issue. The evening before the trial my client called and said he couldn’t make it the next day. I told him I had to have a good reason to make an application for an adjournment on such short notice and he told me:
    “My uncle died again”

  10. Judge Kopf,

    My co-counsel and I were scheduled to be in the District of Delaware for a hearing on a Friday. Co-counsel’s spouse was diagnosed with a serious illness early that week and admitted to the hospital. I contacted opposing counsel, who refused to consent to a continuance. In opposing our motion, the only alternative date they suggested was the following Monday. The court gave us about a month.


  11. I was engaged in a preliminary hearing in State Court. It went on longer than expected and I was due to leave for New York to attend our daughter’s college graduation. My partner offered to sit in for the last day and my client agreed. Request denied!

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