Often when I attend hearings at the probate and family court, on a divorce, custody, modification, or child support matter, I am there for many hours. In fact, it is not unusual to be at the courthouse for the better part of the day. Sometimes this is due to the courts being overloaded with work and backlogged with cases. This is not always the case. Recently, the party on the other side of my case was four hours late. Though she was supposed to be there at 8:30 a.m., she showed up at 1:00 p.m. When she did not show up at 8:30, rather than swiftly defaulting her at the first or second call of the list, the Judge ask that the court call her at home to see what the matter was. The court personnel called her at 10:00 a.m., to find out where she was. The person answered that she didn’t know about the hearing. Absolutely no penalty was imposed on her though I pleaded for a penalty. I argued it was not a mistake on her part, but a manipulation to cause my client to pay more money as we had documentation that she knew about the hearing as she answered the notice of the hearing and filed it at the courthouse prior to the hearing date. Because she was “pro se” had no attorney and was representing herself, this waiting did not cost her anything.
Aside from the mediation and negotiation that goes on while in the family court, the attorney spends a lot of the time waiting for his or her case to be called. Since most attorneys bill by the hour, this has the unhappy effect on the client of costing a lot more money than it should; and gives the attorney the feeling of not being able to provide an economical product, which is legal services at a reasonable rate.
Some people have the opinion that attorneys like this end result because they can make more money if they sit there longer. Not the case for me or anyone at my office or any of my colleagues. I pride myself when I can provide an excellent work product at a reasonable rate. In fact, that is my firm mission.
Today, was a good day. I was at the West Roxbury Court District Court, which is a court that does not waste any time, moves the cases along and gets the job done. If a person doesn’t show up, they are quickly defaulted on the second call. I arrived at court at 8:40 a.m. The other side arrived and Court began at 9:00 a.m. I was done at 9:30 a.m. for my client. I am now back in the office working on some other legal matters. I love when this happens!