PUBLICATION PROCESS: THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES

July 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

Thank goodness most, if not all, lawyers are paragons of mental health.  Otherwise they would regularly be reduced to quivering, sobbing hulks curled in a fetal position on the office hook rug, terrorized by the veritable panoply of unseen legal bugaboos that can bite them, sometimes fatally, in the butt.  These legal viruses are not mere phantasms; they infest your files, lurking there invisible like the dust mites that feast on your body while you sleep.  <Shiver>

MRCP 4(c)(4)

I have already warned you about the dangerous propensity of MRCP 4 publication process to devour entire cases whole. It’s a rule that can transform your case from a delightful, playful puppy dog into an undead, zombie-esque creature that will turn on you and try to drink your blood and eat your skin.

Just when you were growing comfortable with your new-found awareness of Rule 4’s parlous proclivities, here comes something else to worry about.

It’s Article 6, §169 of the Mississippi Constitution, which is entitled, “Style of Process.” It states in pertinent part: “The style of all process shall be ‘The State of Mississippi …’ ”

Given the fact that the MSSC and COA have strictly interpreted Rule 4 as it applies to publication, I think you would be wise to look at your process forms and make sure that every one includes THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI. Look at MRCP Forms 1C, 1D and 1DD. Notice that each includes the style of the case, which includes the court, county and state, and the language THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI. Redundant? Perhaps. An additional line you have to pay for? Absolutely. Necessary? You bet; it’s required by our state constitution!

Chancellor George Warner consistently found process inadequate that did not include the requisite language. Over the years, we have grown less vigilant, and now you can find process in the newspaper that lacks the proper style. I predict that someone will raise this point on appeal and that the appellate court will say, “Sorry, you goofed up and violated the Mississippi Constitution; your process is no good, the court had no jurisdiction, and this case is reversed.”

Now uncurl yourself from that fetal ball, brush yourself off, and start fixing your forms. THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI. Add the words in where they belong. Take pride in the fact that you have avoided being a victim of this peril. And rest easy for now … until the next legal plague that will try to drink your blood and eat your skin.

                                                

Thanks to attorney Leonard Cobb.

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