Running late for court? You're not alone -- and as lawyers well know, chronic or unexcused tardiness can result in costly court sanctions.
In one recent case, a New York defense attorney was fined $500 for his "premeditated, blatant and willful" tardiness, after the judge repeatedly warned him to be on time, Reuters reports.
The attorney's excuse, which the judge did not accept, is among our top five lame, overused excuses for attorneys running late for court. Here's our list -- though you may want to come up with something more creative:
- "I got stuck in traffic." -- Everyone's heard, or used, this excuse at some point -- and so did the New York defense lawyer who got sanctioned. In that case, the judge cited the lawyer's history of chronic tardiness and his familiarity with local traffic patterns as reasons for the traffic excuse being "inadequate."
- "My kids made me late." -- A 2006 survey found about 10% of respondents used their kids as an excuse when running late for work. It's also common in courtrooms. But your opposing counsel, the judge, and even courtroom staffers likely also have children. If they can make it to court on time with their modern family commitments, why can't you?
- "I woke up, but then I fell back asleep." -- Edging out the "kids" excuse, 11% of respondents in the 2006 survey blamed their biological instinct to fall back asleep after hitting the snooze button. Trying to use this excuse in court suggests you're not a morning person -- and that you're not very reliable either.
- "My assistant got the time wrong on my calendar." -- Assistants sure get a lot of things wrong, don't they? And since they're usually stuck in the office, they can be convenient scapegoats in court. But an allegedly careless assistant not only sounds like a lame excuse, it also reflects poorly on your own management skills, not to mention your law firm's reputation.
- "My dog ate my calendar" and other beastly excuses. Man's best friend is a lawyer's lamest excuse. Especially in the age of smartphones, Outlook/Google calendars, and simple email reminders, there's really no reason you should drag your poor pooch, or any other pets, through the mud just to cover for your own mess.
Have you tried to use any of these excuses when running late for court? What other lame excuses have you heard? Tell us on our FindLaw for Legal Professionals Facebook page and join the conversation.
- The 10 most outrageous excuses for being late (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
- Avoid Attorney Sanctions: Show Up for Your Hearing (FindLaw's U.S. First Circuit blog)
- Attorney Sanctions: Fee Disgorgement for Conflict of Interest (FindLaw's D.C. Circuit blog)
- Ethics Tip No. 156: Don't Take Client's Money for Your Strip Club (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)