Monday, June 8, 2015

Sometimes a sore hand is a life-saver

Most eviction "stipulations", which is legal-ese for agreements between the parties, are hand-written by attorneys in court on the day of trial.  Most courts supply a three-part form, so you only need to write and sign the stipulation once.  After it's signed by the judge, the court keeps the original and each party walks out with a copy.

Here's the first page of a blank Los Angeles County eviction stipulation.

The second page includes a lot of lines to write additional terms, and lines for signatures.

Most eviction attorneys arrive in court to handle multiple trials.  Usually I have anywhere between two and eight trials on any one morning.  Most trials settle by stipulation.  Therefore, I do a LOT of writing during the day.

Press hard, you are making three copies.

One day early in my career, I appeared before a certain judge [now retired] who was known for dry sarcasm.  Occasionally he would reduce inexperienced attorneys to tears.  I'd just written my fourth stipulation of the day, and my hand was understandably sore.

Judge:  “Counsel," glaring at me over a spiked helmet prominently placed at the front of the bench.

Me:  Yikes.  **Make mighty effort to control shaking knees.**

Judge:  "This stipulation,” he held it face-out at arms length so everyone could see it.

Me:  Double yikes.  **Notice other attorneys stifling laughs as I'm about to get benchslapped.**

Judge:   “Is actually legible."

Me:  “Yes, Your Honor."  **Force knees to stop shaking**  "I didn't think writing an agreement no one could read, would do either of the parties any good.”

Judge, glaring at the other attorneys in the courtroom, most of whom were disappointed in the lack of benchslap:  “I wish the other attorneys in this courtroom subscribed to that philosophy.”

The other attorneys all turned and glared at me.

I smiled and shrugged.  Sometimes a sore hand is a life-saver, or at least a face-saver.


  1. So clearly my handwriting would have served me well in the medical profession, but not in the legal profession! :)

    1. LOL! The staff at my firm are always telling me my handwriting is mostly illegible. But since Murphy's Law dictates that the key phrase of the agreement which needs to be enforced in the future, is the phrase that can't be read, when I write a stipulation, I do my best to write it as legibly as possible. I don't want to be a victim of Murphy's Law!