Clients at times will ask me to file a motion or to make some argument that is completely out of line. By “out of line.” I mean against the rules of the court. Just as in sports, there are rules that lawyers must follow.
Some rules are mundane: we must use 12 point Times New Roman font in our court filings or 1” margins. [Yes… we have rules on our font size and style.]
Others are significant, often based on the U.S. Constitution. For example, if the government has evidence that may be exculpatory, that is the evidence demonstrates somehow that the accused did not commit the crime, the government must turn it over to the defense.
But, no matter what the rule is, your lawyer should follow it.* And you should want your lawyer to follow the rules. Having your lawyer file motions or make arguments that are not permitted by the rules, will not help your case in the end.
In a baseball game, it is well-settled that after three strikes, you’re out. If the coach for the Cleveland Indians on opening day explains to the umpire and the coach for the other team that since the Indians have not won the World Series in 70 years, longer than any other team in baseball, the Indians should get four strikes, rather than three, so they can possibly win the World Series, the umpire and everyone else involved in the game will know the coach is incompetent and possibly just plain crazy. Even as an Indian’s fan – I would think the coach out of line. (despite some obviously good intentions)
The same thing happens in court.
If an attorney takes actions that are contrary to well-settled rules of procedure, the judge, the opposing lawyer, and any lawyer in the courtroom, will think the lawyer is incompetent. (And possibly plain crazy.)
It is not a matter of the lawyer bringing fight or “pushing the envelope,” as some people like to say. It is simply a matter of the lawyer asking for four strikes instead of accepting the three-strikes rule. She has no basis for making the outlandish request.
Lawyers who engage in the legal version of asking for four strikes are not respected by either the court or by other lawyers. Instead, their arguments and tactics are at worst ignored and at best given short shrift.
*There are some rules, and your lawyer will know which ones, that do call out for your lawyer to challenge. Follow your lawyer’s lead on this issue though, read on for why.
This is why you want a lawyer who knows the rules, follows the rules, and has enough experience to use the rules to your advantage.
That kind of lawyer is capable, knowledgeable, effective – a fighting force to be respected; and when these types of lawyers argue, either verbally or in writing, the judge and opposing counsel listen.
Indians’ catchers and pitchers report February 12…. The start of a new season and with it once again, the hope to be playing and winning in October – within the rules.