The (Non) Emergency

May 4, 2017 § Leave a comment

The lawyer comes crashing breathlessly into your office and throws a sheaf of papers onto your desk. You read enough to see that it’s a request for a R65 TRO. “It’s a real emergency, judge,” he says. You quiz him about the facts in the pleading, and it does seem to be urgent. The lawyer explains that notice can’t be given for this or that reason, the papers are compliant with R65, and you reluctantly agree to set a hearing.

“How about this afternoon at 1:30?” You offer.

“Can’t do it then, judge, I’m scheduled to be in Justice Court.”

“What about tomorrow?”

“Nope. I have to be at a docket call in Decatur.”

“Wednesday? I can delay the start of a two-day trial.”

“Can’t. Temporary hearing in Laurel.”

“Okay. Thursday after lunch on the second day of that trial.”

“Only if I’m done with arraignments in Carthage and can make it back in time.”


“Well, we’re leaving Friday to take the kids to DisneyWorld; next week is Spring Break.”

And so on and so forth.

I compared notes with several other chancellors last week at the judges’ meeting, and we all have had similar experiences. I, for one, wonder why that lawyer took the “emergency” case in the first place, knowing he didn’t have a free minute over the next several weeks.

If it’s truly an emergency, then be prepared to deal with it right away. If the judge is willing to clear the decks to accommodate you, then you’d better reciprocate, because the next time you have a similar urgency, you likely won’t receive such kindly treatment.

In a previous life, another lawyer and I approached Judge Warner and asked him to give us a divorce trial setting “at the earliest possible date,” because we both had troublesome clients that we needed to be shed of. Judge Warner cordially offered a date later that week, which we turned down because of conflicts. After he unsuccessfully offered us several other dates within the next two months, he became noticeably exasperated. He flipped the calendar to December — 10 months distant — and pencilled the case in for the week before Christmas. “Bring me an order,” he said icily, and dismissed us from his office. I think we settled that one.

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