Once the court sets a trial date for your case you can be sure you’ll have to run an obstacle course to get there.
The defendants don’t want you to go to trial and neither do the courts. That’s why, after the summary judgments, they have the MANDATORY Settlement Conference. Anyone left standing after summary judgment is now hauled before a mediator judge then blindfolded and shot. Just kidding.
Our Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC) was scheduled the same day (Jan. 25, 2013) as the summary judgment hearing for “PMS”, the property management company. “PMS” had won. So, it was a little hard going into the MSC after really being shot … down.
All that remained to negotiate were just one issue of trespass against the trash out company and our entire case against the realtor, oh, and whether or not we were going to appeal all the summary judgment/adjudication rulings. I’m pretty certain at that point I had every intention of appealing but since it was a mandatory conference and I had little choice but to attend, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
No So Great Expectations
I didn’t know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised when we were escorted into the judge’s chambers and allowed to spill our guts about what had happened and what we’ve been up against with the “vicious”, “abusive”, “nasty”, “stupid”, “arrogant”, “rude”, “blockheaded” defendants and their attorneys. The judge listened. Hey, I like this guy! Finally, someone was listening to us. Of course, he was being paid to listen to the “vicious”, “abusive”, “nasty”, “stupid”, “arrogant”, “rude”, “blockheaded” defendants and their attorneys, also.
I liked that this judge was wearing a suit and not that stupid black robe. He came across as a regular guy, someone I could relate to and who could relate to me, unlike that devil-robed lady trial court judge with the tats of a bloody dagger that snaked around her neck and the letters “f” and “u” under each eye.
The only parties not present at the MSC were the banks, the entities that started the whole mess, but were clever enough to have kept a distance from the legal fray by simply hiring goose-stepping goons to do their dirty work. When I gazed out the window from the judge’s chambers I thought I saw the banks’ attorney waving at me from what looked like the official “Bank Mobile” but it was just a taco vendor in his elaborate food truck.
We made our case to the mediator judge, even showed him some evidence like this warning sign we had displayed in our window at the time the trash out company showed up.
I forgot to mention earlier that another one of the trash-out company’s versions of the incident was that they thought the home was vacant which, according to them, would have given them carte blanche to break in.
After we finished imparting our tales of woe, we all broke for lunch, after which the judge began meeting separately with the defendants and their attorneys. I was really pissed that they got to sit in the same chairs in his nice office that we had. He should have taken them down to the dungeon. I’m sure the court has one. From what I heard from the bailiff, it’s called the “cafeteria”.
The judge finally got through the lot of them and when he met with us again he told us that we were his favorites. Just kidding. It’s just that after having been so abused by the defendants, their attorneys and then the trial court judge, it was nice to have someone on our side, at least that’s how I imagined it.
By the end of the very long day the judge had managed to hammer out some kind of agreement palatable on some level between all the parties only to have the lunatic realtor and her blockhead attorney throw a monkey wrench into it. How much more damage was the banks’ bimbo bitch going to inflict upon us?
The judge announced we had a deal albeit with a “wrinkle” that definitely needed ironing out. I wondered if perhaps we couldn’t just borrow the giant dumpster from the trash-out company to roll over the wrinkle and bury her body under the pine cones.
We were ordered back the following week to continue hashing out a settlement. You know what they say about settlements? … ‘the only good settlement is one in which no one is happy’. Bullshit, again. Big bully banks and their big goose stepping goons get exactly what they want and they’re happy as pigs in a blanket.
Feb. 1, 2013, Day 2 MSC
So here we were again waiting in the courtroom for the judge to call us in. The courtroom temperature was very chilly to match the atmosphere of the parties forced to attend the mediation. Every party “allegedly” wants their disputes to end. “Allegedly”, I love that word. It holds myriad meanings, such as “maybe”, “supposedly … or … “not a chance in hell”.
This time our case was not the only one being negotiated by the judge; he was juggling at least four others, running back and forth among the parties like a whirling dervish. Good exercise for him. By the looks on some of those attorneys faces, I figured they were in the “not a chance in hell” category.
While we waited the bailiff regaled us court-sitters with dining suggestions and cell phone charging options and helpful products. I wanted to regale them with excerpts from my legal blog.
The realtor’s second attorney made a big issue of not being allowed to bring her cell phone charger through courthouse security. The bailiff cited security reasons. They have a point. You could use the cord to strangle your opponent. By the same token, laptops are heavy enough to whack someone effectively in the head. Still nothing works better than papering someone to death. It’s slow and methodical, just the way those guys like it.
Just the week before, Ms. Slime’s main squeeze attorney told a joke loud enough for everyone in the court to hear, outside the presence of the mediator judge, though. It had to do with a drowning kid and a molester priest. It would have been something I’d expect to hear on “Real Time With Bill Maher”, not in a courtroom. Chuckles all around the realtor’s camp.
It once again came time to break for lunch. The judge was obviously keeping our jolly bunch for last. Bore people to death – torture by mediation. I knew what he was doing.
Then, after the break, the judge ensconced each party in my case in different rooms; we plaintiffs had to stay seated in the shitty courtroom while the others were in his chambers or in the jury room. I’ve never seen a jury room. I felt deprived. The judge had strapped on his roller skates and was breezing from room to room, looking like he was having way too much fun, while the rest of us, no doubt, were suffering upset stomachs from the cafeteria food.
We were all playing a version of “Let’s Make a Deal” and one was indeed struck. The judge popped on his devil robe to make it official. I hated that part. It’s when you have to agree to the deal .. which always seems to be a slightly different version than what you thought it was going to be.
A second realtor wrinkle reared its ugly head. She actually sat there in front of the mediator judge and lied repeatedly and we plaintiffs seemed to be the only ones who noticed. The banks’ bimbo bitch couldn’t tell the truth if she were being waterboarded by “24”‘s Jack Bauer himself.
We were all given until March 22, 2013 to seal the deal. That’s when we have to appear in court to tell dagger lady that we’ll be out of her hair for good.
Why am I worried?
Just one day after posting the above, I get a letter from the realtor’s blockheaded attorney saying “there will be no settlement”. They’re pathological liars. I just can’t figure out if it’s the dog wagging the tail or the other way around. Does the realtor approve of her attorney’s belligerent nonsensical tactics? What I do know is that they should all be institutionalized, preferably at “American Horror Story: Asylum”. Maybe “Bloody Face” can set them straight.
Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller. You can also find her on Google+