Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Well That Delay Sucks, AKA When Judges Don't Want To Hear A Case

Had a pretrial in a case in a local district court today.

This case has been going on for a heckuva long time.

Plaintiff filed it in 2019 (on his own without a lawyer, which was his first mistake) as a breach of contract when Defendant, an unlicensed contractor, royally screwed up the renovation of his home after a fire had occurred and botched it and then never completed it.  Defendant also did not have a lawyer and it bounced on through the process, with some major goofs along the way due to neither side having an attorney.

Plaintiff retained me to handle the trial set to be held in May 2020 as he realized he needed an attorney.  

It is now April 2021.

We've already had 4 adjournments:

The first was on June 2020, when Defendant, not being a complete fool, stated he didn't want to do a trial by Zoom when the judge gave him an option to do so.

The Court then reset the trial date for another Zoom hearing for September 2020.

The second delay was when he again refused to do a Zoom trial.  Most judges would have said too bad, but this judge was all for delaying.

The court then set a live in-person hearing for October 2020.

For a third delay, Defendant got out of that at the door to the courthouse by claiming he had been exposed to someone with Covid in the last 14 days.  Trial adjourned yet again.

Date was then set for a live trial on February 24, 2021.

As you might have guessed there was another delay.  The Court then on that day, of its own accord,  delayed it when Defendant got an attorney and instead of having the trial go as scheduled turned it into a pre-trial and then set today for yet  another pre-trial, denying my request to set a new trial date then and there for today.

I'll note we had to spend time preparing before each of these dates, getting the couple witnesses ready to go, and all for nought each time.

So today we show up for pre-trial and the Judge is like 

"Did you settle it?"  I said that we had made a settlement offer but they never responded to it, so can we get a trial date now?

Judge is, yes you can get a trial date - in March 2022.  He suggests we settle the case.  Kinda hard when the defense doesn't respond to settlement offers.

Judge claims the court is all backed up with criminal cases and that's the earliest he will do.

My client hit the roof at that point and justifiably so.   The delays are great for the defendant but justice delayed is sure as heck being justice denied.

Most other judges would have proceeded with the trial back in June 2020 and held it via Zoom and not let it get this delayed out. We're getting close to a year past that and it will be over 3 years since the case was filed before it gets to trial - and this is a simple half-day to at most a 1 day trial.

For whatever reason, he's bending over backwards for the defendant and really refusing to hear this case.


Chuck Pergiel said...

Large backlogs in court cases seems to be very common. Why do you think that is?

Eaton Rapids Joe said...

In criminal cases like sexual assault the defense often delays and delays hoping the only witness gets jerked around enough and misses enough days of work that they no-show, then the defendant walks.

Or so it seems.

Old NFO said...

Ouch... Makes one wonder...

Aaron said...

Chuck Pergiel - Some of it is due to Covid and that so e courts simply stopped trials period during that time and in some cases haven't started back up. Some courts will have civil cases go to trial by Zoom, but this judge keeps letting people opt out which is why we keep getting delayed.

Eaton Rapids Joe - Yep, it can be quite a game, but here the Defendant is just pissing the plaintiff off big time.

Old NFO: Yep, I don;t know why the judge keeps punting and letting the Defendant delay, but he keeps doing it.