Exhibit? What Exhibit? and Blankety-Blank
Republished with permission of Chancellor Lawrence Primeaux.
Two unfortunately recurring phenomena have an infinite capacity to frustrate chancellors to no end.
The first I will refer to as Exhibit ?, and I will illustrate it with a brief melodrama:
Say you have put off getting that order signed — perhaps because of a much more important (to you, not your client) golf game or visit to the spa — and now your client’s back is to the wall and needs it signed yesterday. You rush it over to the judge, who is in another county. Your order includes this language:
The Executor is authorized to execute a deed substantially in the form of the attached Exhibit A.
The next day when you call to check on whether the judge signed the order, the staff attorney says. “Oh, I planned to call you. Judge says she can’t sign it because there was no Exhibit A attached. She won’t be back in until next Tuesday. Have a nice weekend.”
Exhibit? What Exhibit? I see it in pleadings, motions, orders, judgments. If it was important enough to refer to as an exhibit, then surely it was worth attaching.
The second is yet another sin of omission. Here’s your order:
The executor is ordered to pay attorney’s fees in the sum of $____________ for representation in this case. (There is nothing in the petition to clue the judge in as to what to place in that blank).
In this district, we require the attorney for the fiduciary to include an amount in the petition to close or other appropriate pleadings so that it will be de facto approved when the fiduciary signs it. But if you don’t do that, or attach it as an exhibit (see above) to the pleading, or somehow get it properly before the judge and in the record, don’t expect to get that order signed.
The same goes for pleadings. UCCR 2.03 says in its entirety: “No blanks shall be contained in any pleading.”
This article was republished with the permission of Chancellor Lawrence Primeaux of Meridian and was originally published on The Better Chancery Practice Blog on February 5, 2020.