Sheriff Of Nothing-ham

, , , , | Legal | October 20, 2019

(My grandma, like many senior citizens — and others — gets lots of spam phone calls. She’s fairly sharp and skeptical of just about everyone, so she’s found a great way to make scammers hang up immediately. She also is retired and has plenty of time on her hands. She doesn’t often answer unknown numbers, but occasionally, she’s in a good mood.)

Robot: “Your social security number has been suspended. Press one to speak to a representative.”

(My grandma presses one.)

Scammer: *goes into a spiel about what’s supposedly going on with her social security number*

Grandma: *in an excellent, very dramatic, “worried elderly woman” voice* “Oh, no! That sounds terrible!”

Scammer: “Yes, but fortunately, we can help–”

Grandma: “Now, hold on. Let me grab my husband; he’s the county sheriff.”

Scammer: *click*

(My grandma is divorced and lives on her own in a retirement community. Joke’s on them!)

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The Law Applies To Everyone Except Me

, , | Legal | October 18, 2019

(I work as a legal assistant for a small civil litigation firm while in law school. Part of my job is to help clients answer “interrogatories,” i.e. official questions submitted by opposing counsel aimed at gathering potential evidence. Many of these questions can be quite complicated, but there are plenty of simple ones such as, “Please provide your previous addresses,” or, “Have you ever been a party to a lawsuit before?” In general, we forward the entire question list with instructions to the client to answer what they can and then return the list. I then revise their answers to what is legally relevant to the case, put in objections, and help with the remaining questions. These instructions also say, in big, bold letters in extra-large type, “YOU ARE LEGALLY OBLIGATED UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY.” More often than not, the list is returned almost entirely blank, leading to exchanges such as these. An exchange from a landlord/tenant dispute:)

Me: “So, you’ve never lived anywhere else?”

Client #1: “Nope.”

Me: “But you’ve changed your address with us twice.”

Client #1: “Oh, well, then, put those in.”

Me: “Okay, I can do that. Do you have any addresses from before we started working on your case?”

Client #1: “Well, yeah, but I don’t remember them.”

Me: “Do you have any records that you can consult? Past bills, maybe?”

Client #1: “I guess. That’s a lot of work to go through them, though. Can’t I just not answer that one?”

Me: “No. No, you cannot.”

(Another exchange:)

Me: “I see your medical provider information is left blank. We need to fill this in.”

Client #2: “No.”

Me: “No?”

Client #2: “I don’t want them talking to my doctor. That’s not their business. Why are they asking for that?”

Me: “You’re claiming you were injured. They have to know who treated you so that they can get medical records related to the injury, because that is potentially evidence.”

Client #2: “What do you mean, my medical records are evidence?!”

(Another common exchange:)

Me: “This says you’ve never been involved in any other lawsuits. As I recall, you had a divorce a couple of years back, right?”

Client #3: “Oh, yeah. It was a huge mess. It took ages for our lawyers to iron that out. The judge got tired of hearing from us!” *laughs*

Me: “Okay, that counts as a lawsuit, so we’re going to need the information for that.”

Client #3: “Wait, that counts?”

(Yet another exchange:)

Me: *discussing a form with all of her information clearly filled in* “Why didn’t you sign the form we sent you?”

Client #4: “I didn’t think that applied to me.”

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Might Have To Reschedule Again If You Don’t Stop Interrupting!

, , , | Legal | October 16, 2019

(I work as an attorney. There are strict rules about when and how parties to a lawsuit can communicate with the judge handling it. Essentially, no attorney or client can speak directly to the judge while their lawsuit is pending without the presence or consent of the attorney for the other side, and it cannot be done outside of a hearing or a meeting either called by the judge or scheduled with proper notice given to all parties. Notice requirements have their own set of rules, too. Time and again I have had to explain this to clients who, for reasons I do not understand, seem to think that attorneys can just call up the judge directly to discuss their case. This exchange takes the cake, however:)

Me: “Hi there! I’m just reaching out to let you know that the hearing has been rescheduled for [date]; we will be sending–”

Client: *interrupting* WHAT?! Why was it rescheduled!?!

Me: “Well, the court had to reschedule it. So, we will be–”

Client: *interrupting again* “Why? Why did the court reschedule? Tell me why.”

Me: “The clerk did not see fit to provide us with a reason, so it could be any number of things, really. We will–”

Client: *interrupting a third time* “What did the judge say?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Client: “WHAT. DID. THE. JUDGE. SAY?”

Me: “The judge didn’t say anything; his clerk was the one who informed us of the schedule change, but–”

Client: *interrupting* Why didn’t you ask the judge?! Why didn’t you take this up with him?!”

Me: “Well, actually, we can’t, because–”

Client: *interrupting* “Oh, you ‘can’t.’ I see. You just ‘can’t.’” *I can hear the air quotes she’s using.* “This is unacceptable. You call the judge. You call the judge right now and you get him to un-reschedule.”

Me: “I’m afraid I am unable to do that. You see–”

Client: *interrupting* “Enough! Stop saying you can’t. You can call the judge, and you will, because that is what I’m paying you to do.”

Me: “Ma’am, it would be illegal for us to do so.”

Client: “What?”

Me: “The court rules say that attorneys can not speak directly to a judge about a lawsuit on the judge’s docket while that suit is pending.”

Client: “Bulls***. Where does it say that?”

Me: *cites a long string of court rules* “This is done to protect all parties from having unfair access to the judge. You wouldn’t want opposing counsel to be able to do that, would you?”

Client: “Well, no, I suppose not…”

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Beginning To Think That Wasn’t The Canadian Government: They Weren’t Polite

, , | Legal | October 14, 2019

(I get a phone call and answer it. I’m met with the most awkward robotic voice I’ve heard, randomly pausing and emphasizing every third syllable.)

Robot: “Hello, this is the Canadian justice department. You are being called because your social security number has been flagged for criminal charges.” 

(It then goes on to impart how serious ignoring the phone call is and how ignoring this call is also a crime and this is my best shot to not be put in federal court in front of the magistrate. It then says, “Press one to talk to a representative.” I know this is a scam, so I take a moment to figure out how I want to do this before I press one. The woman it connects me to has a moderate Indian accent. I try to do an English accent, and end up speaking in the worst accent I’ve ever heard.)

Scammer: “Hello, this is the justice department. Can I please have your first and last name so I can look up why we called you?”

Me: “Wait, why don’t you have that already? The bot said that you got my phone number from my social security.”

Scammer: “Well, I still need your f****** name to look you up!” *click*

(It was a shame; I was about to let her know what I thought of our government that can’t even tell its workers why they called me.)

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That Plan Croaked

, , , , , | Legal | October 11, 2019

We live in a somewhat big plot of land inside a village. It’s not big enough to be a farm, but big enough to allow us to have our small vegetable garden and chicken coop, while still being surrounded by neighbours with smaller plots. 

Our back neighbor would only be there for vacations and the occasional weekend, and would blast bad music on his speakers while the sun was up. 

One day, my father decided to make a pond in the back of our plot. Being so close to nature, it almost immediately filled with frogs that would croak almost non stop. 

A week after excavating the pond, my neighbor demanded that my father dredge it, because the frogs were making too much noise and his family could not sleep. My father refused, and the neighbor said he would contact the police. 

A month or so after, we received a visit from an environmental protection agency about “burning used car oils.” After we showed that there was no oil burning in our home, the agents went away. Next month, another agency visited us, this time about “steel scraps lying around,” and again, nothing came out of it. This went on for nearly a year, involving every single environmental protection agency and committee that exists, and a bunch of different reasons, none of which were enough to give a fine. They were, however, annoying, because every agent could find something that needed to be done, or there could have been a fine. 

The final visit was because of a complaint that my father was dumping detergents into the pond. The policeman explained the complaint, and apologized saying, “I am sorry, but we have to follow up on every complaint, even if they are ridiculous.” He went into the back, took a couple of pictures, and came up front beaming, but did not tell my father why. 

The next week, my father heard our neighbour screaming at his lawyer, stating, “I was the one making the complaint; why am I the one getting a fine?”

The lawyer simply said, “Next time you are complaining that someone is dumping detergents into a pond, it’s a good idea not to wash your car right next to it!”

The lawyer then advised my neighbor to stop the complaints, because we had enough false complaints against us that we could sue for libel and harassment and easily win. My father never did sue, but it still warms my heart to know how karma was so promptly served.

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