Excuses for not appearing in court?

Court appearances often get adjourned, which means “postponed,” for a variety of reasons some of which are not entirely true.

Lawyers often have overlapping cases, judges have other conferences and/or trials scheduled which get extended or whatever, people get sick, people have long-scheduled vacations, people have the screaming itches.

Well, wait. That last one came up via (I don’t have to tell you this, do I?) Lowering the Bar. And it is a screech:

The Screaming Itches

Today’s Quiz:

“The Screaming Itches” would be:

(a) unwise to bring up on a first date

(b) a good name for a band

(c) a bad excuse for failing to appear in court

(d) all of the above

Of course the answer is (d), so I will admit that as a quiz that kind of sucked. But perhaps it will be of some use in the continuing effort here to educate people on What Not to Do.

In this case—decided by the Sixth Circuit in 1985 but just made known to me (thanks, Rob)—there are actually three lessons.

First, while it sometimes cannot be avoided, it is not a great idea to schedule overlapping or immediately consecutive trials. Stuff happens and the first one may well go longer than expected.

Second, if you have been ordered to appear for trial in Courtroom One on a particular day, and explain that you cannot do so because another judge previously ordered you to appear in Courtroom Two that day, it would be best if that explanation is actually true. And ideally, it would not turn out that the explanation is false because, in fact, the Courtroom Two judge excused you from appearing that day because you told him you had to appear in Courtroom One.

This may well have worked when you were shuttling back and forth between Mom and Dad and lying to them about who said you could go to the movies. The stakes are higher in federal court.

Third, if you have been required to appear before one of these judges to explain your “apparent misrepresentation to two federal judges that [you] were in the other’s courtroom when in fact [you] were in neither,” you should not ignore the request for an explanation and then, when pressed, state that you failed to appear because you “had the screaming itches in the crotch…. I wasn’t here because I would have been scratching my testicles constantly if I had been here.”

The Screaming Itches – Lowering the Bar, the whole damn story.

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