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Home Page Official Publication of the State Bar of California October2007
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Out of practice

Congratulations to Edwin B. Stegman for putting into print what so many of us trial lawyers think of Fast-Track; status/case management conferences; expert witness “abuse” and filing proof of service within 90 days on every lawsuit. His article in the September issue speaks for many of us who have seen judges become “paper-pushing” administrators rather than dispensers of justice.

Lawsuits are filed for a number of reasons and many are not intended to, nor do they, result in trial. So why put some defendants through the stressful and embarrassing situation of being served within 60 days when most cases settle without that embarrassment, which just adds to more lawyer bashing.

And the point about status/case management conferences: I am an adjunct professor at a local law school where I teach pre-trial litigation skills. Each semester I require all students to sit through a full morning status/case management conference calendar and write a paper on “how much justice was dispensed.” You should read some of the papers. “This is what I am going to law school for? . . .”

And don’t get me started on expert witnesses. In a perfect world, qualified experts who examine the same facts and evidence should come up with the same conclusions. They don’t. That is why this “cottage industry” can bankrupt many litigants on so many civil cases.

It is silliness like this that drove me out of the active practice of law several years ago. Good for you, Mr. Stegman. Perhaps when your suggested changes come to pass, I will re-enter the active practice again.

Mark E. Edwards

Too good to be true

Edwin Stegman’s nine ideas for improving the California judicial system are well-argued, pragmatic, motivated by a belief in substance over form and non-partisan. Thus, the probability that they will ever get enacted is zero.

Drew M. Loewe
Fort Worth, Texas

Stegman for president

As a former trial lawyer who practiced for 40 years, I read with great interest Edwin Stegman’s suggestions for improving the administration of justice. His immensely wise, commonsense suggestions are such that I believe he should run the California courts system, be in charge of the legislature and, if he has time to spare, manage the federal government.

Bruce A. Bevan
Santa Barbara

A little courtroom levity

I was in a district criminal court in Houston the other day and witnessed a rather humorous exchange. A three-time DWI was being sentenced to two months in county jail. The defendant stood up and shouted, “Kiss my ass.” Without missing a beat, the judge shouted back, “Motion denied,” and immediately sentenced the defendant to an additional two months for blatant on-the-spot contempt of court.

Who says judges don’t have a sense of humor?

Peter J. Riga

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