Filing a grievance against a lawyer 9: answering the response

Yesterday, to be sure of making the twenty-day deadline, I personally hand delivered to the Disciplinary Committee my response to the answer submitted to the Committee, from the lawyer Dinkes & Schwitzer retained to challenge my grievance.

A word about words: “answer” and “response” always used to get my brain wandering off into the flora. After briefs in a lawsuit move one further generation from “Complaint” and “Answer” to the complaint, I sort of mentally lose track of where we are in this thing. After a while of Dueling Motions, you get titles like “Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss…” and on from there. Gets pretty dense.

The neat thing about being a plaintiff and not a lawyer is, you don’t really have to follow these generations of answers, responses, objections, etc. And I’m proud to announce that I managed to finish my response to the answer to my complaint without tangling up my own mind.

It took me a few weeks to write the thing, because I had a lot of disagreements, large and small. (For really small, how about correcting the misspelling of my name on one page?)  And I like to edit forever. Ferocious editing, however, did not prevent what always seems to happen: after I returned from lower Broadway, two seconds before the heavens opened and hail splattered all over the street, I re-read my response and discovered a couple of typos. Rats. It is an absolute truth that no writer can successfully proofread herself.

But I had a lovely time writing this thing, thanks for asking. And since the Disciplinary Committee cover letter told me I could add any relevant documents since my original filing, I put together a new appendix containing nine newly submitted documents, and did a dandy table of contents, too.

What I want to tell you, my plaintiff pals, is that you can do this. I was responding to a lawyer’s brief — and a lawyer who did not refrain from wielding his lawyerdom to take condescending slaps at me. I slapped back.

My original complaint was factual, clean and not pejorative. I did not call names, I did not whine, I did not exaggerate, I did not verbally spit. I just laid out the events and non-events — the things that happened and the things that should have happened but didn’t. And although, compared to the language in my complaint, I loosened up in my response (if someone’s going to sneer at me, I will sneer right back), I followed the same simple rule: I challenged the lawyer’s recital of what happened. “You say ‘to-may-to,’ I say ‘no, there was no tomato.'”

Doing this cost me nothing except time and a couple of peripheral certified mailings. And it can’t redound unpleasantly upon me. I complained truthfully and accurately, and responded truthfully and accurately.

I don’t think I will have to do anything more. The Disciplinary Committee will inform me of their decision. So that’s it, folks. But of course, if the decision isn’t confidential, I’ll let you know what happens next.

And meanwhile, I haven’t heard a peep from the Joint Committee on Fee Disputes and Conciliation, to whom I filed a request in April. I might just write a little reminder-request to them, now that I’m in the mood. Because although I signed a settlement agreement on November 3, 2011, I haven’t received that settlement yet.

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