There are so many layers we lawyers have to navigate to get to a given result. In order to practice in any forum, we have to be familiar with levels of authority, which include, but are not limited to:
* the applicable Constitution (federal and/or state);
* the governing laws passed by Congress or assorted state lej bodies;
* precedent, set down by the Supremes or lower courts that bind how the same issue will be decided until a higher fish on the food chain decides otherwise-
* national or stadewide court rules, delving into the minutiae of how
one does things, rather than whether one will succeed at doing it;
* local rules, amplifying (and occasionally flat-out contradicting) any of the above;
* in some places, individual judges' rules, and/or standing orders, and/or "notices to attorneys," which permit or prohibit various things with at least the imprimatur of somebody,
be it a judge, board of judges, or clerk of court, telling you how it is;
* and finally, a level once defined by one local judge's clerk at a seminar as "legend and folklore"- the real persnickety interpretations that you only know because you were in a courtroom on a day a judge pronounced something- or you heard about an unpublished opinion- or you checked "the book" under the clerk's front counter which nobody other than hometown lawyers knew about- or, as it was for me today, the pronouncement that a court clerk literally took down from a bulletin board at her desk to use against me in my attempt to get from Point A to Point B by the shortest and cheapest route.
The facts are not important.
Not My Client filed bankruptcy over eight years ago. NMC owned, and still owns, a piece of real estate. NMC's then-lawyer did not obtain a fairly simple, and free, document that would have clarified that there was no issue concerning title coming out of the BK. Instead, then-L relied on NMC's eventual resort to Plan B- an even simpler, quicker way of having the court clerk certify the lack of an issue.
Just one problem: NMC's bank did A Thing during the case. The Thing did not, ultimately, have any adverse effect on the property title, but it caused a hiccup, one that prevented the court from issuing the Plan B document.
This made no sense to me, when NMC's current lawyer asked me to help out late last week. Because Thing had nothing to do with title, in and of itself. But the Plan B form was set up for the simplest of simple cases, and it no longer fit in the box....
even though NMC, during the case, had done Other Things that had resulted in the Court essentially stating all the elements of the Plan B document on the record of the proceeding itself.
So I thought I could go in, armed with those Not Important Facts, and talk them into following Plan B.But no-o-o-o-o-o!
No, it didn't matter that Other Things made it clear I could get a Plan B document. No, I'd have to pay $260 in filing fees, and shlep documents in and out the building, and bother the judge, to get the Plan A document that the then-lawyer should've gotten as a matter of course over eight years ago.
Which I did....
and in response to which, when the judge heard my request on the record, he replied,Gee, why didn't you just do this by seeking the Plan B document? It would've been so much easier.
Fortunately, there are armed federal marshals just a panic-buzzer away from any attorneys who might be inclined to storm the bench. So I didn't; I repeated the lame explanations I'd heard from the Guardians of the Plan B Documents, got my much more expensive order granted and eventually certified, and delivered it to the client's other Not The Lawyer Back Then to make things happy and happen.
He, at least, was seriously impressed by how quickly I'd achieved all this. And not without a little levity- because I chanced to notice, while securing an essential signature from outside the courthouse, that the repair shop across the street was displaying this on their road sign:
Silly me; I just assumed they were extending their Canada Day sale into a full week's celebration;)
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