Monday, August 18, 2014

Bench officers who shouldn't be

One day before trial in Y County, I spent over an hour working out a settlement.  Finally, I got my client [the Plaintiff] and the Defendant to reach an agreement that was acceptable to both parties.  Each party gave up something, and gained something.  I thought it was a win/win.

I gave the agreement to the court clerk, and she put the file up on the bench for the Commissioner.  Here's what happened when the case was called:

Commissioner:  "It appears the parties have reached a settlement."

Me:  "Yes, Your Honor."

I stood at counsel table with both parties, waiting for the agreement to be blessed.

Commissioner [reading the agreement]:  "I think you can come up with something better than this."

What?!  Is this a commissioner?  Or a wanna-be mediator?  She gave the agreement to the bailiff who returned it to me.  I brought the parties back out into the hallway and asked both of them if this is what they really wanted.  They both responded "Yes."

I asked the clerk to put the file back up on the bench.

Commissioner:  "Is this the best you can do?"

Me:  "The parties both agree this is how they want to resolve the case."

She acted seriously disappointed in everyone, but at least she blessed the agreement.

This commissioner was recently on the ballot for judge.  I was soooooo glad she wasn't elected.




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