Tips & Tactics
The Lawyer's Little Red Toolbox ... #3
You sent so many emails thanking us for our "Little Red Toolbox" series, we decided to send a few more warning tips again this week so you can be prepared for the lawyers' little red toolbox of tricks and traps they use to throw you off track and put you at a disadvantage.
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We mailed it, your Honor: Occasionally, a lawyer will claim he mailed a motion, notice, or other important paper to you, when in fact the paper never got mailed ... and the court will be inclined to believe the lawyer! Believe me. It happens. What can you do? If the paper required you to respond within a certain time frame, and you didn't get the paper, there may be harsh penalties. What you must not do is try to take advantage of the situation and claim you should not be required to respond because you didn't get the paper. If you do this, the court will surely shoot you down. Instead, calmly assure the judge that you will be pleased to respond to the paper, but you didn't get it. Perhaps the postal service lost it. They do, you know! Do not accuse the lawyer of lying, even though he may be lying. It could also be his secretary forgot to mail the paper or lost it. She will try to save her job by insisting that she mailed it. Any attempt on your part to discredit the lawyer or his staff will only work against you. Instead, assure the judge that you will happily respond to the paper you did not receive, and move the court for an order giving you a certain amount of time to do so. Of course, it's always a good idea to cite controlling appellate cases that favor court leniency in such matters. Then, if the judge refuses to give you more time to respond, you are prepared for appeal. But, as you will learn in more detail with our 24-hour
We never received it, your Honor: Yes, this happens, too. At the very worst time possible, the lawyer on the other side may claim he never received an important paper you sent to his office. How do you deal with this? Simple. Never rely on mail alone. Even certified mail gets lost now and then. Mail your papers, by all means, but follow-up with fax and, if the document is particularly important, have it hand-delivered by a disinterested person who can give oath that the paper was delivered on time and handed to a particular person in the lawyer's office. Print a fax log after all faxes to opposing counsel, and staple the fax log to your copy of the document. Pay the few extra pennies for delivery confirmation at the post office. Certainly, not all lawyers are crooked, but enough are that you simply must anticipate that sooner or later they will show up in court with the excuse that they never received what you sent. Mail with delivery confirmation. Fax with fax log. Hand-deliver by someone reliable who can swear delivery was made. By doing this you put a stop to the "We never received it" game that some lawyers think is sport. More procedure for effectively controlling crooked lawyers is covered in detail with our popular 24-hour step-by-step
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