Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Is Judge LeVine at "war" against solo lawyers or is there too much pressure from above?

Personal Injury cases often take years before they are ready for trial. In the Supreme Court of Queens County, once the cases are finally ready for trial, they are sent to Judge LeVine's TAP part for trial.

Unfortunately, some sole practicioners have conflicts and are unable to be in two courthouses at once. For instance, yesterday, I covered a case, per diem, that was ready for trial in Queens County. The attorney was engaged in another trial at the same time in Westchester County. Obviously, he cannot be the trial attorney for both cases at once.

As I entered the judges chambers, I handed to the Judge an affidavit of engagement, that stated that the attorney that I was covering for needed an adjournment due to the aforementioned conflict. Opposing counsel did not oppose the application. Upon review of the affidavit, the judge stated that the contents were insufficient, however, he would contact the trial part in Westchester to ascertain its status.

The Judge ruled notwithstanding the conflict, jury selection was ordered to proceed the following day.

It is my view that the Judge's ruling is clearly prejudicial against sole practicioners. The Judge may not be at fault if the pressure to move cases in an expediated fashion comes from above. However, a sole practicioner, does not have the option of sending an associate to try the case.
What do you think?