Sunday, May 5, 2013

Word of the Month for May 2013: Rules of Court

God's mad at someoneOnce upon a time there were two brothers:  Cain and Able.  Able was a shepherd and Cain was a farmer.  One day, God came a 'callin asking both brothers to provide a sacrifice of an unblemished sheep.  Able went out to the field, snagged his best sheep and bada bing, bada boom, offered up the sheep.  Cain, on the other hand, thought he knew better what to do and offered up a bunch of twigs and leaves because that's what he does, grows twigs and leaves!  The result was that God accepted Able's sacrifice and rejected Cain's sacrifice

The other day, as I was doing my law Librarian thing, we had a patron come into the library all screaming and yelling and stomping around.  Seems he had submitted a set of legal documents to the court and the court rejected all of them because they failed to conform to the rules of court.  He screams, "Who do these ##%$@#%^ judges think they are and what in blazes are the rules of court?!?!?"

Black's Law Dictionary defines RULES OF COURT as "rules governing the practice or procedure in a given court" and, as it turns out, each court (state and Federal) are governed by their own set of rules of court.  The California Rules of Court govern the entire state of California and the local rules of court deal with issues for each county in the state of California.  In California alone there are rules of court for the California appeallate courts (Rules 8.1 - 8.1125); there are rules of court for criminal courts (Rules 4.1 - 4.700); rules for civil procedure (Rules 3.1 - 3.2120); rules for family and juvenile law issues (Rules 5.1 - 5.830); and even rules governing the law of practicing law (Rules 9.1 - 9.61).  Yep, there are certainly a whole bunch of rules which, if you don't follow them, may result in a painful judicial smackdown.

Now, back to the story.  For years it bothered me that God rejected Cain's sacrifice.  I mean, a sacrifice is a sacrifice, right?!  Actually, no.  The reason Cain's sacrifice was rejected was because Cain didn't follow procedure or, more to the point, the rules of court.  God said give me an "unblemished sheep."  Able did and Cain didn't.  Plain and simple.  If you don't follow the rules of court for the jurisdiction you are in (for example, you wouldn't use the California rules of court if you lived in Maine or Iowa, or Texas or Wyoming or the European Union, right?!), the court is going to (or can) reject your legal documents.  Plain and simple. 

Now, don't go out and start screaming about this.  Just suck it up and accept the fact that you're going to lose on this one.  If you need help locating the rules of court for your jurisdiction, head over to your local county law library and your local county law Librarian will help you out (and help prevent against your going around blaspheming against God, your least favorite judge, or whomever).

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