Thursday, April 17, 2008

Be Prepared

Hartz v. Adm'rs of the Tulane Educ. Fund, No. 07-30506 (5th Cir. Apr. 16, 2008) (per curiam) (unpublished) (King, Stewart, Prado)

Don't go to court unprepared. If there's a key Supreme Court precedent relevant to you case, read it. Not only do you owe it to your client, but you also don't want this to happen to you:

Phipps: . . . so that’s about all I have to say, Your Honor. I don’t have anything other than that. You know, my client lives in Chicago. We communicate occasionally on the phone, she sent me the documents. And um, she’s a doctor. She continues to earn a living, and she’s generally unavailable if you call her because she, she’s sort of a traveling doctor.

Judge: That’s not much of thing you come in here and tell us, I guess.

Phipps: Well, my attitude is, the [district court] judge got it right . . . . And as far as whether even Ricks should apply, I don’t think it should.

Judge: What do you do about Morgan?

Phipps: I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know Morgan, Your Honor.

Judge: You don’t know Morgan?

Phipps: Nope.

Judge: You haven’t read it?

Phipps: I try not to read that many cases, your Honor. Ricks is the only one I read. Oh, Ledbetter, I read Ledbetter, and I read that one that they brought up last night. I don’t know if that’s not Ledbetter, I can’t remember the name of it. Ricks is the one that I go by; it’s my North star. Either it applies or it doesn’t apply. I don’t think it applies.

Judge: I must say, Morgan is a case that is directly relevant to this case. And for you representing the Plaintiff to get up here—it’s a Supreme Court case—and say you haven’t read it. Where did they teach you that?

Phipps: They didn’t teach me much, Your Honor.

Judge: At Tulane, is it?

Phipps: Loyola.

Judge: Okay. Well, I must say, that may be an all time first.

Phipps: That’s why I wore a suit today, Your Honor.

Judge: Alright. We’ve got your attitude, anyway.

(some italics added). Oh, and in addition to showing up prepared, you should also probably avoid disparaging a judge's alma mater.

As a sanction for the attorney's "cavalier disregard for his client’s interest and for his obligation to the Court[,]" the panel ordered him to provide his client a copy of this opinion and to provide proof of service to the court.

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.


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