More delays requested

June 15, 2009

Assistant Attorney General Braddock Huesman is representing defendants former Attorney General Matthew Gregory, Acting Attorney General Gregory Baka and Assistant Attorney Generals Anthony Welch, Tom Schweiger and "Does" 1-20 in the Fennell-Bank of Saipan lawsuit that was filed in June 2009.

You may recall that an extension was granted in the OGA lawsuit by Supreme Court Justice Alex Castro because Huesman had to see his dentist.

Now he seeks "Defendant's Motion to Extend Time" in this case. The reasons? The tooth and moving:
Counsel for defendant had a tooth removed last week and was out of the office for three day. Additionally, counsel for defendant moved into a new house over the weekend. These events coupled with the normal litigation load have conspired to divide counsel's attention. Moreover, counsel for Defendants has an appellate brief due in the NMI Supreme Court on the same day. Said brief is due in an expedited manner.
I assume that the appellate case that Huesman refers to in this motion is the OGA lawsuit that was postponed because of the tooth.

Is this just be a pattern in the CNMI? There certainly seems to be a lackadaisical attitude toward deadlines and responsibility to one's commitments among attorneys.

A delay to file pre-sentence reports was just requested in the CUC-Rydlyme case by the attorneys representing all defendants. Are delays and extension requests common in all U.S. jurisdictions?

In addition to requesting a delay why not attack the other side? This is also what the OAG has done in documents that they filed in Rep. Sablan's case. From the motion:
Counsel for defendant requested an additional fourteen days from plaintiff but plaintiff would only grant an extension to file an answer. Counsel for defendant apologizes for having to ask the Court for this extension but needlessly litigious seems to be the hallmark of any litigation relating to the Bank of Saipan.
The response was due on July 15, 2009 and the motion filed that day is asking for an extension until July 31, 2009. Shouldn't a motion for an extension be requested before the due date? What if the judge's ruling to the request is "no"? Then what?

Attached to the request is an email exchange between the plaintiff's attorney, Mark Hanson and Assistant AG Huesman. The email indicates that an extension until July 17th was already agreed upon.

Attorney Hanson asks, "Is there no one else in the office that is working on this with you?"

That was my question when the OAG asked for an extension in the OGA lawsuit filed by Rep. Sablan.

From Mr. Hanson:
I spoke to my client about this. We feel that if the defendants are going to file an answer, then that could be done fairly easily by July 17. We do not want to give the defendant more additional time to file a motion to dismiss. The facts underlying this lawsuit demonstrate the years of delays caused by the OAG in the first place. This just seems to be more of the same.

With that said, my client will agree to allow the defendants additional time to file an answer (not a motion to dismiss) with any motions to come after a reasonable opportunity for discovery. Regrettably, we cannot agree to additional time for the filing of anything other than an answer.
See this previous post for more information on the Fennell-Bank of Saipan lawsuit.


Anonymous said...

It does appear to be the AGO's standard practice.

- Welsch totally missed the deadline for the Retirement lawsuit resulting in a default judgement in favor of the Fund.

- Huesman asked for a continuance in the OGA hearing due to being off-island (Tina Sablan asked the same question, "Why can't another AAG cover?" Wiseman met them both halfway and shortened the continuance request. Surprisingly Brad showed up when they claimed he would have been off island.)

- Huesman asked for a delay in the first Supreme Curt hearing on the appeal that they brought to the Supreme Court. Castro granted it indefinitely.

- AGO office was ordered to release Howard's contract by a Friday yet was unable to turn over all the documents until Saturday.

- Huesman is asking for more time in the Fennel case.

Man what is going on there? All this time Baka has taken two 2 week vacations and Huesman has gone off island twice in the same span of time.

Delay seems to be the only defense they rely on.

Time for the courts to quit allowing this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Is this just be a pattern in the CNMI? There certainly seems to be a lackadaisical attitude toward deadlines and responsibility to one's commitments among attorneys.

A delay to file pre-sentence reports was just requested in the CUC-Rydlyme case by the attorneys representing all defendants. Are delays and extension requests common in all U.S. jurisdictions?

Yes, this is common in U.S. jurisdictions. Check PACER and see for yourself.

They are not called “delays” but “continuances” or “extensions”.

Seeking a continuance does not indicate a “lackadaisical attitude toward deadlines and responsibility to one's commitments among attorneys.” Quite the contrary.

The deadlines set by the Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Criminal Procedure (and criminal Speedy Trial Act) are not iron-clad, hard-and-fast deadlines, but a norm or goal for judicial docket management purposes under ideal circumstances.

Seldom do the stars so align, and continuances or time extensions are routinely and quite properly granted as a matter of course for “good cause shown,” just the same as business “deadlines” often slip in the world of commerce, but unlike most school homework assignment due dates.

The liberal granting of continuances in the American judicial system makes eminent sense when one thinks about it.

A fair justice system demands that most disputes be decided on their merits according to the rule of law, not on which side has more resources to hire more lawyers to get things done by arbitrary, inflexible deadlines.

A system where deadlines reigned supreme would be one of form over substance, of gamesmanship, of great advantages for the rich over the poor in dispute resolution.

Real hard-ball litigators often try to adhere inflexibly to time guidelines, especially when their cases are weak on the merits. Such tactics add stress to participants in the justice system, requiring inordinately long hours of work to meet these due dates, leading to an unbalanced work/ family life and adding to the aggression within the system. (Such tactics are particularly harsh on those who must care for young children, driving women out at an inordinate rate from those attaining litigation partnerships at top law firms.)

The practice of civility is a lot better way of living. Especially in a small bar, where you are going to appear against the same attorneys again and again, the inflexible and even occasionally unethical practices that are more common in big cities (where you might never again encounter opposing counsel) will not work well.

Word gets around, and everyone might get sick or have other engagements themselves one day. Those who refuse to stipulate to continuances seldom receive such stipulations themselves.

Aside from geographically small bars, where the lawyers all know each other, there are also smaller subject matter specialties, such as admiralty (maritime) law or bankruptcy, where the lawyers have a higher degree of mutual respect, understanding, and accommodation for each other -- as long as clients aren't prejudiced, of course.

But most short-term continuances are routinely sought and granted, with no adverse effect on clients or the merits of the cases. Civility is constantly being preached and encouraged by bar associations, even as the subject of mandatory continuing legal education.

And one of Judge Munson's strengths is his courtliness and civility. He is a real gentleman.

Again, don't take my word for it. Look up articles at the American Bar Association website, or check the PACER docket sheets for various cases (I know that costs money to access or download) the next time you look at one.

Perhaps you already have the Covenant Section 903 Lawsuit docket sheets?

I hope this comment provides some insight to an aspect of the law that might not be immediately obvious to non-litigators.


Anonymous said...

With today's busy calendars, personal and professional conflicts are inevitable. Even the best lawyer can't be in two places at once or accomplish two complex assignments literally simultaneously.

It is not a feature of American jurisprudence that an opposing party gets to choose the other side's lawyer. Nor do they normally get to prevent opponents' lead counsel from writing or arguing dispositive motions.

That is just not how the American legal system works. It would be even more wasteful and expensive if that were the practice.

Wendy said...

Thank you for the clarifying comments from people who appear to be attorneys and know the system.