Later today I have volunteered to go down and work with the limited scope representation project at the court house. What this means is I will be the attorney of the day for some people who are facing an eviction and try and help them out. On one hand, its a good project. Many eviction cases should never go to trial for a couple of reasons. In some cases, there just is not a defense. In many cases, especially in some of the lower income housing, there should not be a case at all, and would not had the lanldord followed the rules and been a little bit proactive about the problems.
On the other hand, it is a little frustrating. I have done this once before and felt humstrung because I did not have much in the way of leverage. I always find it easier to negotiate on behalf of my clients when I have something in the quiver that I can pull out and use. When I work with the limited represenstation project, I have not been able to conduct any investigation, any discovery, and have not been able to sit down with the client and adequately explore some options for them. This leaves me in a situation where I am all but begging for a deal and saying, effectively, "Look do a deal now or he is what you are going to deal with on Monday at trial call."
But all in all, it is still a worthwhile exercise. Plus, it also gives me some great quotes. For example, the last time I volunteered for the limited scope project one of my assigned cases (there were 4) was a woman charged with nuisance. After a lot of back and forth with the landlord's attorney to hammer out a deal, I took it back to my client. I laid it out for her and then she said, "So if I make noise late at night, they can evict me?'
"Not exactly, its not like you have to absolutely silent. Just keep it down. None of your art after 9," I replied.
"But my neighbor is like a freak. She can hear my microwave bell go off. What if I want to heat something up?"
"Think about getting a new microwave or turning off the bell," I suggested.
"But my crazy neighbor is saying that I pound on the floors. I think she should..."
"Well," she said, "I used to do my art there..."
"And now you have moved it all to a studio. So no problem right?
"And tv, she's always saying I am blasting..."
"Turn down the volume," I suggest.
"But when I have sex... I mean I can get really, really loud when I have sex."
I looked at her and tried not to say all the things I wanted to. Finally, I suggested, "Maybe go to his place?'
She eventually did the deal. As far as I know, she was not evicted, so it must have ended up alright for her. I guess she did got to his place.
I wonder who I will get today.