South Carolina BAR Journal
SC Lawyer, March 2011, #4.
(My Former) Pet Peeves Regarding Proposed Family Court Orders: Misguided, Misunderstood and Misconduct
South Carolina LawyerMarch 2011(My Former) Pet Peeves Regarding Proposed Family Court Orders: Misguided, Misunderstood and MisconductBy Barry W. Knobel"'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"'
*"Jabberwocky" (in part) from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1872 by Lewis Carroll): When Alice has finished reading the poem she gives her impressions: 'It seems very pretty', she said when she had finished it, 'but it's rather hard to understand! (You see she didn't like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) 'Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas - only I don't exactly know what they are!'
Did you read this, and did you understand what it says ... and what it means? And are you certain the opposing attorney and his or her client understood it?Perfect. You've just sent your family court judge your proposed order for the judge to sign.
When you sent the "proposed order" to the judge, what exactly did you want the order to accomplish, and what result did you seek? Did you want to sound smart? Did you want the order to sound or be purposely vague? Were you guessing at what the judge had ordered and instructed? Did you try to cleverly add several "findings" or "conclusions" or (please say no) slip in some additional relief for your client that the judge never ordered?
Answer this question for me: In order of priorities from the list below, what do you believe is most important to your family court judge after the conclusion of your case?
* Making certain the proposed order accurately states the judge's ruling? * Making certain the proposed order is grammatically correct, with the judge's name spelled correctly? * Making certain the proposed order is sent to the judge as soon after the hearing or trial as possible? * Making certain that if you cited statutes or appellate court opinions in the proposed order, they were a correct statement of the law applicable to the judge's ruling? * Making certain the proposed order, as to form, complied with the S.C. Rules of Family Court or the S.C. Rules of Civil Procedure? * All of the above? * Any of the above?
Finally, forget what might be important to the judge. What do you consider to be most important regarding the proposed order from the priorities stated above? Time's up.
If you said "making certain the proposed order is sent to the judge as soon after the hearing or trial as possible," give yourself a prize because you're probably the greatest family law attorney in South Carolina, and your hourly rate is probably too low. Don't waste your valuable time reading another word in this article, and have a great life.
For all others, please take just a moment to read on. I'm going to give you my own top five pet peeves affecting those proposed orders that you were requested to draft and send to your family court judge. Trust me, there are more than five.
Pet Peeve No. 1: An attorney taking too long to send a proposed order to the judge.
First of all, there is one universal maxim in the practice of family law: The judges' orders are the beating heart of every case no other documents in the case file are more important. You can have a "banker's box" full of pre-trial motions, discovery and work product, and you can try a case for days on end, but at the conclusion...