NMC at FOLO has pointed out before that the Trailer Lawyers stand a decent chance to get booted due to the same reasoning that the other Scruggs-associated lawyers got booted. There has been some posturing back and forth through motions and replies about why the Trailer Lawyers should be dumped from the Qui Tam lawsuit and NMC points out something in a new one.
I thought there was essentially nothing new there– it outlined the whole mess involving the Rigsbys, and the role of the Kansas City lawyers (which I think can now be said is pretty close to undisputed; the only question I see is what those undisputed facts mean– will the involvement of the Kansas City lawyers with Scruggs and the Rigsbys at an earlier stage disqualify them? I think the answer is almost definitely yes, but I don’t see that there are really any fact disputes here). So State Farm replied, the arguments were framed, and now it was time for Judge Senter to tell us the result.
Not! So! Fast! say the KC lawyers, with what I think is one of the strangest pleadings I’ve ever read. I’m going to first recite a general rule about lawyering (or, for that matter, persuading): Show, don’t tell. Don’t expect your audience to just agree with you. Convince them to agree with you. At this point in the motions, State Farm has produced some allegations about the KC lawyers’ early involvement with the Rigsbys. Given their, uh, early involvement with the Rigsbys, it’s time for the KC lawyers to explain why that doesn’t matter.
But that’s not what they do. Instead, they want to make two points: That State Farm is grossly wrong to say the KC lawyers did anything wrong; and that given how State Farm and Judge Senter have worked together enough to become best buds, Judge Senter should schedule a live hearing and give the KC lawyers a chance to look him in the eye and…
And what? It’s not entirely clear. I’d put it this way: The KC lawyers have now filed a pleading that doesn’t just jab back at State Farm as hard as they can. They’ve now jabbed Judge Senter. Was this a good move? I personally don’t think so. And in case you may wonder if I exaggerate, I’ll just quote. Here’s what the KC lawyers had to say:
1. State Farm has filed a reply to the Relator’s response that raises new issues. …
2. Enough is enough. Counsel wish to be heard on this matter so that this Court can properly evaluate State Farm’s claims with regard to disqualification.
3. This Court does not know and has never met counsel for Relators in this case. While it has worked closely with counsel now representing State Farm throughout the Katrina litigation, it has never laid eyes on the Missouri lawyers representing the Relators.
5. In the interest of fairness this Court should conduct a hearing to determine if there is any basis for disqualification. Such a hearing would allow the Court to look into counsel’s eyes and assess the arguments for disqualification.
And then they go on to say there’s a due process problem here (they don’t say what) and that all the discovery cited by State Farm to show their involvement was from other cases and was improperly conducted (but they don’t say how or what facts were wrong). The pleading from the KC lawyers is one of the strangest pleadings I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen stranger– a lawyer once thought that instead of a “Motion to Withdraw” he should file a “Motion to Disappear” (I thought he should have been told he was required to do it in open court) — but only barely.
This whole Trailer Lawyer affair has been strange from the get-go.