Friday, July 14, 2006

Perry Mason At Large

After taking a government class at Central Michigan University that had me doing research in a law library decades back, I found law to be a snap. Just research some case law, prepare a brief, and bingo. That's all there was to it.

So when my sister had a hearing pending before an administrative law judge here in Michigan, I volunteered my services. She accepted. I researched some case law, wrote up a little speech to give before the hearing officer and off we went.

Cue the Perry Mason theme.

But when the judge asked if it was true that I was representing my sister, and I said it was, he told me, "I expect you to abide by the court rules of 1963. Now call your first witness."

Uhhhhhh, NOT what I was expecting. Still, I'd watched Perry Mason on TV. How hard could it be? I called my sister as a witness. But it didn't go that well. You know how judges sometimes admonish lawyers and other trial participants? I was admonished a lot.

Couldn't use hearsay. Couldn't lead the witness. Heck, how was I supposed to get my sister to say what I wanted her to say unless I asked some leading questions? Sheesh, the moron. Finally, the judge relented, "I'll take your ignorance of the law into consideration."

All right! I was on a roll now. I finished my "case in chief" (didn't know what that meant until the judge explained it) and we adjourned. And . . . we won. Not because of any legal brilliance I exhibited before the judge. But because the other side didn't show up. We won by default.

Fast forward about 20 years. This past year my son Greg received a threatening letter from a collection agency for a bill he wasn't responsible for. Okay, maybe partially responsible for.

Cue the Perry Mason theme.

I researched case law and prepared a letter where I threatened all kinds of legal ramifications if any move was made upon my son's credit and reputation. I know that any lawyer worth his salt will advise a client to steer clear of a trial at any cost. And we never heard from that collection agency again.

After several months, however, Greg received another threatening letter from a second collection agency for the same debt. Ah, the ole one-two, eh. This time I would give them the legal equivalent of both barrels.

Cue the Perry---CUT!! No, Greg said. He didn't want me to write another letter and have his credit hang in limbo. He paid the bill instead. Guess that worked for him. He bought a car all by himself this past week and they commended him on his good credit at the dealer.

I still think I would have won in the end. Afterall, Perry never lost, did he?


Blogger Michael said...

Do you do speeding tickets? ;-)

11:56 AM  
Blogger Me said...

Good job dad!
My 20 year old just bought his first car. I wish it was all by himself. Now my credit is hanging in limbo!

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Too funny....I think you've proved that if there's anything worse than a lawyer, it's a wannabe lawyer.
You DO know what was missing don't you? Della!

5:43 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Hey, I might give you call if one of my antics lands me in trouble. :)

10:22 AM  
Blogger Nankin said... least you won the case.

And no hot flashes are not psychological. My doctor told me to eat tofu for the soy content. Yuck! I tried it and I'm convinced you have to be raised on it to appreciate the taste.

11:42 AM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

I think JUST MAYBE he had a hand in running up A BILL of some kind of other. Otherwise, you would have been 3 for 3, for sure.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Maria said...

Wannabe lawyers. . . Terri is so right, but I am just like you. I always think if given the chance particularly in small claims, I would be a winner. I am also a Walter Mittey and can daydream through wonderful court scenes in which I win and where everyone is impressed with my wisdom.

Maybe in our next lives, we will wow some future courts. For me, it is a little late to enter the field this time around.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

Maybe, just maybe it's a little harder than it looks.

Good job on winning the case. I think you owed a lot of thanks to the guys who didn't show up.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave or should it be Perry? You did well to even attempt to get your sister off. Your son was not so lucky.
Thanks for comments, and I think half a world away let's me off serving dinner,
Take care, Merle.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Good story Dave, you had better check it's not golf day before you go to my sisters for dinner, the cat died so there is plenty of cat food.

2:50 AM  
Blogger poopie said...

Um, I've got an agency or two on my tail. Do you work cheap?

3:28 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I hope all your readers are old enough to remember the Perry Mason theme. I remember watching that show, and Paul Drake had a phone in his car. Talk about ahead of his time!

Yeah, you would have won.

6:12 AM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

What a great story. I wondered over here from Poopie's site and I'm so glad I did. I took two years of law and found it fun but a lot of hard work. I think there is a reason good lawyers earn their keep.

11:51 AM  
Blogger bornfool said...

I could have used you as my divorce lawyer. All mine did was stand there and smile.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Miss Cellania said...

Oh, I'm sure you would have been very effective in the second collection case, but it was better for your son overall to just PAY the bill!

7:44 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Now Dave, If your son actually did owe the money, then how can you defend that?

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:53 AM  

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