Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's called "The Brooklyn Bounce", although it is not unique to Kings County. You file a motion with the clerk's office, perhaps a time-sensitive motion, and it comes winging back to you. The clerk's office has found some sort of technical deficiency, and rejected your filing.

My most recent brush with the Bounce found me talking on the phone with someone from the clerk's office. Could he point me to the provision in the Court Rules, or the CPLR, or in the local rules for Kings County where I could find the basis for my filing being rejected? Well, no, as it happens, it is not a rule that is written down anywhere, more of a guideline, actually. Well, if that is the case, would he agree that a rule that can't be found anywhere is inconsistent with the principles of transparency and fairness under which the Courts in our great country are supposed to operate? Well, it isn't actually a rule, per se.... Well, if it isn't a rule, then isn't rejecting my filing an arbitrary action? If it can't be justified by a rule that I can read somewhere, how do I tell my client that it is getting due process? Doesn't rejecting a filing based on a guideline that nobody has seen suggest that there is a denial of equal protection going on? You do accept some filings, after all-- I've seen the motion calendar.

It was at this point that he broke down. What do you want me to do, he asked. I want you to take my motion, please, I told him, politely. He instructed me to re-file, and send it to him directly, which I did.

Yesterday I got a call from someone else in the clerk's office. "Your motion papers say that you are attorney for the defendant Market Arcade Complex," he said, "But that party doesn't appear in the caption."

I thought about it for a second, and realized that he was referencing the information below the signature line on my Notice-- the part with my name, the firm name under that and our address under that. "Market Arcade Complex is part of my address," I explained. We represent the two defendants that are in the caption. Look again-- 'Defendants' is plural, not possessive, or plural possessive. There's no apostrophe. There is no comma after "'Defendants', either." Long silence, then, "Okay." A half hour latter he called me back. "Mr. Altreuter? I cleared it up-- your motion is okay."

I mention it because for the last 24 hours I've been shaking my head over the fact that there are people in the Kings County Clerk's office who are scrutinizing addresses looking for a basis to bounce motions. Words fail me.

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