Good evening everyone!
I’ve just been through one of those few times when my day job takes over my entire life for a short period of time. Mark and Kayla are always wonderful in their support for me when I have to do that; the dogs are okay with it as long as they get fed every morning. However, now that it’s all over and I have taken a deep breath, everything shimmers back to normal.
Still, even in high pressure situations, there is humor to be found.
In Alabama and most federal courts, e-filing is now required; this lets you file briefs and exhibits electronically and gives you until 11:59 the day something is due for it to be timely filed, but, as one district court clerk’s office has politely explained in their e-filing rules, “While a filing is timely as long as it is filed prior to 11:59 a.m. the day it is due, the clerk’s office strongly recommends that attorneys e-file during working hours, when someone will be able to help them if a problem should arise.” Unfortunately, I was not able to heed their advice this time, but it all came out right in the end.
The briefs I were working on were in an area of the law that uses a lot of acronyms. Because it is easier to refer to NHTSA rather than the National Highway Safety Transportation Agency, and to the FHSA rather than the Federal Highway Safety Act, and the STATSER rather than the Smith-Thomas Act To Support Edamame Research (all right, I made that one up), in certain areas of the law you just have to resign yourself to the acronyms and try to keep up with the scorecard as best you can. So Monday night, while I was studying notes someone had made for me to help with these responses, I came across the following phrase: “since then a LOT has been done to change the design.” I spent five minutes trying to figure what on earth LOT stood for, only to realize that LOT stood for, strangely enough, the word “lot”, with emphasis. Things started to fall into place then.
For technical reasons I have tried to understand, but decided that it is simply better to accept, the documents that we file, as well as the exhibits, need to be filed in .pdf format, the kind of file that you use Adobe Acrobat to read. When we need to refer to deposition testimony [FN] in a response, we have to find the deposition, print out the pertinent pages, then scan them in to convert the group of pages into a single file in .pdf format. (Most courts do not permit you to file the entire deposition; only the pages you are referring to. A few courts are different.) Many of the court reporting services now automatically send you depositions in electronic format, which makes this process a lot easier.
I had called the Birmingham office yesterday afternoon to check that all the depositions were available electronically. (The original office, where I work, is about 65 miles away from the Birmingham office.) After I was assured that they were, and got a mobile phone number from Christine in the Birmingham office staff in case there was a hiccup, I turned back to proof-reading and finishing my writing.
Fast forward three hours, to when I was finally ready to start putting the exhibits together for filing. I opened my Adobe Acrobat Reader and plunged into the correct file on the server – only to discover that nary a deposition was to be found! After a heart attack and a round of adrenaline that didn’t go amiss anyhow since I needed a pick-me-up, I started looking around a little bit to figure out what was going on so I wouldn’t have to call Christine at 8:00 p.m. and have her return to the office. After another five minutes, I realized what the problem was. I had the Adobe Reader program set to where it would only show me Adobe files in the file directories. Once I changed that setting to “all files,” the depositions I needed magically appeared. I gave a sigh of relief, and the gathering of exhibits could continue.
Technology: can’t live with it, but sure can’t live without it!
Have a great evening everyone!
FN. For those who don’t know, a deposition is an out of court questioning session where the questionee is under oath.