In general, I am a fanatic about timely arrival to court. Every lawyer and every party should be a fanatic on this topic, of course. I won’t state that I have never been late to court – that would be a lie – but it’s horribly embarrassing. Worse, showing up late can prejudice a client’s rights in many cases.
This week my client and I won a case by showing up on time. My client had, well, some vexing and challenging issues in his/her driving record and was charged with a significant number of citations. Had she/he been convicted, probation before judgment was not have been likely and a point system suspension was potentially the cards – a potential job killer for my client. We showed up on time, my client was almost the first called, and the officer was not there. Not guilty.
Literally as we were walking back to the gallery to receive our not guilty disposition sheet, the issuing officer showed up and asked for the tickets to be reopened. The court correctly noted that it had just declared my client not guilty; the court did not mention the doctrine of double jeopardy but it clearly would have attached upon the pronouncement of the verdict, if not moments before. We won and we won not through legal argument but through what Woody Allen said constituted 90% of life: just showing up (on time.)
Get to court on time; it’s not just professional and proper but it’s the winning attitude and the winning strategy.