Judges are wonderful people. They are as different as their names and their faces in their approach to lawyers and litigants alike. While some of them have godlike patience to listen to counsel, some have zero tolerance to nonsense. Some award cost like it’s going out of fashion while others just ignore you and your ‘asking for cost’ as if you became invisible after asking. Their reactions to issues can only be predicted if you have had to study each one over time. Hence, sometimes you go to court with tension and they disappoint you with unexpected reaction. There are however a few times they share the same feelings. The things that annoy them! Let’s analyze them:
When a Judge gives you a clear date, please do not ask for an adjournment on that day.
The reason why she decided to give you a clear date may range from the case being a knotty one to you and your colleague on the other side being just naughty. Clear date(s) are always isolated and odd. Some may ask you to come at 2pm or on a Friday if they do not sit on Fridays. Others may want to accommodate hearing your motion on a date dedicated for some other business other than taking motions or regular proceedings (for instance a date for Case management conference or Pretrial Conference). How would you appear in court at 2 pm and not be ready to argue your application? If you wish to see a judge’s fury, appear in court on a Friday (especially if the Judge does not sit on Friday) and say, ‘My Lord we seek an unfortunately, I would not be able to go on. I would be asking for an adjournment.’ Well, chances are that, you may not leave the court with your case still in the court’s docket.
Do not interrupt a Counsel who is making sense. I repeat, do not interrupt!
You appear in court and you do not have a clear grasp of what the case is all about. You have the court’s audience and you start muddling things up. Counsel on the other side jumps to his feet and you hear something like: ‘My lord, if I may assist my learned friend.’ My Lord responds: ‘Go on counsel’. You sat down and the counsel on the other side is explaining in chronological manner, all that had transpired in the suit and the judge is following with rapt attention and in fact nodding. Then you notice that your learned colleague is taking advantage of the opportunity to damage your case. That is when those village people that follow you to court start to whisper to your ear; ‘jump up and interrupt.’ My dear, do not listen to them. Just allow the counsel enjoy the moment you created for him. Try your luck next time!
When you file a Petition against a Judge
There is a particular judge that sits at the National Industrial Court Lagos. She is a very wonderful personality. Always complaining about how the NIC Judges do not have judicial assistants and secretaries. If you ever ask that you be given a shorter date, forget it, she will read that sermon to you. Only you will end up saying ‘eyaaaa.’ If you have ever written petition against her or against her learned brother, you will be exposed in court for the whole world to see. She is not alone on this last one. The judges do this thing in a very funny way. No matter how well you conduct your case, they will always find a way of telling everybody in court just how your law firm is in the business of petitioning a judge. God help you if you then did not do what you ought to have done. Just forget it. Sorry is your surname. You hear lines like: ‘it is still your firm that will go about writing petition against all the judges. You think we would all run away from here because of you.’ Even if it is only him or her you wrote against, bros, you have written against all the judges in that jurisdiction.
And how do you even forget that you are bound by the Records of the Court?
Have you not heard of that phrase; ‘My Lord we are bound by the records of the court’? My Lord is saying to you, ‘I made this order’, or ‘I gave this directive at the last adjourned date’ and you are insisting that what you wrote in your file is a different thing and was actually what My Lord said at the last adjourned date. More often than not, My Lord will read the directives and/or order. Counsel, your only response at that point should be; ‘My lord we are bound by the records of the court’. If you say anything else, after My Lord has taken the pain to read from her records, then you are on your own.
Asking for a short Adjournment after delaying the Proceeding of the day
And then the Court is ready to hear your matter and goes; ‘have you served the other party?’ and you go; ‘My Lord, we want to bring an application for substituted service.’ First, she would conclude already that you don’t wish for the matter to proceed. Then she will make a mental note of where she kept those matters that are not urgent and she can give you a date two months away. If you ever try to play smart and ask for a shorter date, chances are that she will abuse you. If she is on the calm side, she will totally and completely ignore you. All you would hear next is; ‘this matter is hereby adjourned to…, next case please.’
When you come for trial without you witness
‘The Judge is in charge of his court’ Do you know what that means? Would you like to find out? Just go to court on a date fixed for trial without your witness. Then when your case is called, say to the court; ‘My Lord, the witness is out of jurisdiction.’ Or do like some people I know and say, ‘My Lord, I honestly do not know why the witness is not in court, I called him last night to remind him of this matter and he assured me that he will be here this morning.’ Liar. The Judge would be looking at you from the corner of his eyes. But in the end, he will show you that he is really in charge of his own court. His anger will be expressed in the most subtle of way. How? Your case would be adjourned till the next four months and if you are the Claimant, my dear, your next date will be after courts’ annual vacation even if the matter came up in January. I can tell you for free; September date is what you will get.
Seeking a Stay of Execution of Judgment/Proceedings
Forget that they are always quick to tell you to ‘go upstairs’ o. As if they love for you to go upstairs. They don’t mean it o. If you doubt this, bring an application for stay of execution of judgment or stay of proceedings pending appeal before a Judge. You would have made them very angry. Only that some of them are able to control the anger. It is however not the case for some as they clearly become very aggressive with you like, ‘is it my judgment that you are appealing?’ Oya now come and take “stay”
We love our Judges. It is really a special grace coping with some lawyers!.
Caveat: This is completely written for your relaxation and for fun. Do not take this seriously!