Awwww. Lawyer Jerry L. Steering of California missed the deadline to file a response to a motion to dismiss the case that he had filed on behalf of a client. He had a good reason, he thought, having seen “Field of Dreams” a bunch of times. (OK, I’m guessing here.) U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton of the Central District of California, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, had already granted a deadline extension to Steering once, but he requested more time, he explained, because he was “presently in Chicago” to watch his son “play American professional baseball.”
What a good dad! What a bad lawyer! The judge didn’t grant the extension, and in an unpublished per curiam opinion that a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued yesterday, her decision was upheld. The lawyer’s “excuse for not meeting a deadline that had already been extended 90 days at his request was frivolous: Counsel chose to attend a ballgame instead of timely filing his client’s response to the motion to dismiss,” the 9th Circuit said.
Frivolous? FRIVOLOUS??? Watching one’s son “have a catch” for money and supporting him from the stands is “frivolous”? Well yeah, it is. This is a flaming breach of to many legal ethics rules to list, but competence and diligence will do. I have to assume that Jerry is willing to accept the consequences for his choice, which will include a slam-dunk legal malpractice and maybe disciplinary action from his bar association as well.
When family obligations conflict with professional ones, it’s tough. Still, the professional standards leave a lot less wiggle room than family duties; I think Junior would have understood.
Even if Kevin Costner wouldn’t.