A Message from Mildred in the Matter of Sarah…

I received an ominous message from LAB reception that the Judge’s assistant, Mildred, had called and simply said that the hearing is cancelled.  Now, you have to understand, Ana and I met with Sarah three times for two to three hours each time over the past two weeks.  And these meetings are intense, we all leave feeling mentally spent.  At our last meeting, Ana spoke with Sarah about the option of requesting a delay of her hearing to accumulate more evidence.  However, Sarah declined, saying that she really felt we were meant to push forward.  And so we did.

We built momentum.  The evidence was in, the brief was submitted, Sarah was prepped, and we were ready to go.  In other aspects of life when we are prepared, we feel a sense of calm.  A sense of, “I’ve got this.”  With hearings or trials, however, it is always a gamble.  And this sense of calm waivers from the rationalizing “we’ve done everything we can” to nerves and self-doubt.  (An emotional flip-flop that law school is quite adept at instilling in its students.)  This flip-flop accompanied by the high degree of risk and all of the facts and information flying between your ears results in a type of lawyer’s high.  You know…we’ve all heard of or felt the adrenaline-induced runner’s high.  Same thing.  So, to then find out that the hearing has been cancelled is a rapid falling, a sinking back to ground level.  What happened?

I fidgeted in this uncomfortable limbo, waiting for Mildred to return my phone call and tell me why the hearing was cancelled.

The hearing is cancelled.  What do you mean it is cancelled?  Why?  Because it is “on the record?”  You’ll have to excuse me, Mildred, but I don’t know what that means.  Oh, because the judge has entered a fully favorable decision based on the brief alone and therefore, there is no need for a hearing on the matter?  A written decision will be out in two weeks.  Okay Mildred, I understand now.

Then, my gut reaction was to hang up so that she couldn’t change her mind!  Not quite the rational thinking you would expect from a law student, I know.  Then I heard my mom’s voice whisper… “always get it in writing.”  I found myself asking Mildred, the judge’s assistant, if this decision was firm enough to tell my client.  Mildred assured me that we would have the written decision in two weeks time and that I could go ahead and tell my client.  It makes me nervous to go forward and give Sarah such amazing news; news that she’ll be getting assistance and won’t lose her home, without something in writing.  However, Mildred gave me the go ahead and I can’t resist.


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