Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kristina v. the State of California

Today was my first day at court acting as a lawyer-to-be. I was really excited because I have been working on this case for two months and thought my client had a good chance. Even though it was just a settlement hearing, it was still before a judge and I got to sit in one of the counselor's chairs up in front next to my boss and client.

Unfortunately, my excitement died quickly as I had to deal with the moronic lawyers for the State of California. It was quite an eye-opening experience. There are some pretty lousy lawyers out there - or possibly good lawyers working under lousy orders. One comes in late, another saying he does not have settlement authority when the law clearly states the opposite, and they both are extremely stubborn and throwing out desperate arguments. I had to bite my tongue, stifle my laughter, and refrain from rolling my eyes at half of their arguments. Even after the judge told them that she thinks we should win (and consistently shook her head at their incompetency), they were still not willing to settle.

The largest lesson I learned was that reasonableness and justice do not always prevail--at least not right away. I was so sure that this case would have been settled by now but I think I was overly idealistic. This case will now go onto trial, unfortunately without me since I have to go back to school, and if the next judge was like the one we had today, we will win.

(Note 1: Sorry I can't go into details about what this case is about, but at least I can go bed tonight knowing that I fought for the kids. I don't know how those other lawyers feel)
(Note 2: Even though it's easy to pick on government lawyers because of stereotypes, I know bad lawyers exist in public and private practice)

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