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Appropriate court/talking to opposition behavior


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Quick question for anyone - I have court tomorrow and am wondering about the appropriate way to handle dealing with the opposition attorney.

 

I know that before the judge calls me that the opposition is going to ask me to come out into the hallway to "talk" (I've seen her do it first hand with several people when I went to the courthouse to observe a month ago)

 

So I'm wondering if I should:

 

A.  Go into the hallway, listen and then polite refuse any settlement offers or arrangements with them

B.  Politely tell her that I have already filed my motion to compel arbitration and am not interested in making any deal

 

I'm also wondering that if I do go to "talk" in the hallway how much is appropriate for me to say:

 

For instance, I imagine that she will tell me that arbitration is going to cost me way more money and I'll lose anyway so I may as well settle -> to which I would like to reply:  actually arbitration is going to cost you and your client a ton of money, and if I by some chance I did lose I would appeal to a three party panel of arbitrators which will cost you even more money, then if I should happen to lose there as well you would still have to get the decision upheld by a court (costing you even more time and money) - and if a court did enforce the decision you would continue to receive nothing from me as I would either declare bankruptcy or keep all money out of banks and live off of pre-paid credit cards which I can use to pay every bill I have. 

 

Do not know if that is appropriate response, considered a threat etc. 

 

Or is it just best to keep quite?

 

Thanks for any input

 

 

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Like poker, you never want to show your whole hand.  You want to act as though you have a great hand to back them down, but not show it.

 

Example:

Plaintiff Attorney: "You know arbitration will cost you a lot more and you will still lose and have to pay more. You should settle now."

 

You: "Really?!? Is that legal advise or personal advise you are giving me? Mabye you should inform YOUR client of the cost of arbitration. I am already fully aware of the cost and procedures for arbitration. If there is nothing else to discuss, let's get this motion signed by the judge so we can move this thing forward."

 

See in this example, you have backed the attorney down, and revealed your savyness without revealing your whole hand.  There will be time later to up the ante and start to reveal how much you can really make this cost them.

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Guest usctrojanalum

If you qualify for bankruptcy why wouldn't you just go through with it now?  Think the bankruptcy threat is the most empty threat people could make, because if they were really considering it they would just do it... they wouldn't say I'm only going to do it if a judgment is entered against me.  That's actually pretty backwards, because liens on real property don't get discharged in a bankruptcy, plus the judgment can add an additional ding to your credit report as well.

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So I'm wondering if I should:

 

A.  Go into the hallway, listen and then polite refuse any settlement offers or arrangements with them

B.  Politely tell her that I have already filed my motion to compel arbitration and am not interested in making any deal

 

I'm also wondering that if I do go to "talk" in the hallway how much is appropriate for me to say:

 

For instance, I imagine that she will tell me that arbitration is going to cost me way more money and I'll lose anyway so I may as well settle -> to which I would like to reply:  actually arbitration is going to cost you and your client a ton of money, and if I by some chance I did lose I would appeal to a three party panel of arbitrators which will cost you even more money, then if I should happen to lose there as well you would still have to get the decision upheld by a court (costing you even more time and money) - and if a court did enforce the decision you would continue to receive nothing from me as I would either declare bankruptcy or keep all money out of banks and live off of pre-paid credit cards which I can use to pay every bill I have. 

 

Example:

Plaintiff Attorney: "You know arbitration will cost you a lot more and you will still lose and have to pay more. You should settle now."

 

You: "Really?!? Is that legal advise or personal advise you are giving me? Mabye you should inform YOUR client of the cost of arbitration. I am already fully aware of the cost and procedures for arbitration. If there is nothing else to discuss, let's get this motion signed by the judge so we can move this thing forward."

 

My opinion is NONE of these.  While you don't want to show your entire hand, a threat is NEVER the way to go as far as I am concerned.

 

My suggestion is you listen politely to the speech the lawyer will give you.  You do not want them to be able to tell the court you were uncooperative.

 

Then I would decline the offer and remind the attorney that arbitration has already been elected and the motion filed.  If you have time before the trial date I would pay the fees and get it started further painting them into a corner.  When the lawyer protests or gives some lame excuse I would politely decline again.  For Example:

 

PA:  "this is my client's settlement offer............ How would you like to settle this?"

 

Me:  I am declining your settlement offer at this time as I have filed a motion to compel arbitration with JAMS and paid the fees.  

 

PA:  "Arbitration is expensive and you can still lose the case.  It is best that you settle now."

 

Me:  I am comfortable with arbitration and MY fees have already been paid.  Per the terms of the credit card agreement you allege I owe I will be sticking with arbitration.

 

Then I would walk away after saying nothing more.  When you make direct empty threats or snarky sarcastic comments you appear weak and vulnerable to a lawyer.  Answer short, simple and direct and you appear confident and capable.  

 

The lawyer probably has faced ARB elections before.  They know it is expensive.  As a pro-se defendant they also know if you have no money you can get your fees waived by the court but they cannot.  The goal is that you appear so confident in the ARB process that you will go through with it.  They probably don't want to spend the money so they back down and dismiss so that you don't have to do anything else.  

 

Keep in mind that if the debt is large enough the JAMS fees won't sway them one bit.  This works best when the JAMS fees are far more than what the debt is that they are after.  Even then there have been some cases where the plaintiff said no problem and paid the fees.  Which is why I do NOT recommend being sarcastic or rude.  Just stick to your guns.

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First, being "uncooperative" is not a concern.  If I were being cooperative, I would just take whatever settlement they are offering and play the debt.  Our courts systems are an adversarial system, there is an expectation of contfrontation.

 

Secondly showing some savvy when it comes to the process makes them less likely at each step to want to proceed.  If they feel they can get a quick win in arbitration, they may roll the dice on it.  If they know that you are knowledgeable and will fight each step of the way, completely uncooperative, they are more likely to want to cut their loses.

 

I can only say that this is the tactic I used and was able to reach an "amiable resolution" with an OC prior to them paying any arbitration fees.

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I would not say more than I had to. In this case, just let them make their speech and then tell them that you intend to go down the path for arbitration anyways and that is it. Say no more. Don't let them know what you have an out should you lose. Let them find that out the hard way.

As for waiting until a judgement is issued, in most states you have a period of time in which any enforcement is stayed pending appeal. You can file for BK during that time and that stops the whole process, including liens on real estate.

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Thanks for the input everyone.  Had court yesterday and did not talk to the opposition before we were called up (because the opposition showed up about 3 minutes after our scheduled start time).  What did happen though was:

 

During the pretrial conference the judge asked if we had an opportunity to talk about settling outside of court to which I responded that my settlement offer was included in the pretrial questionnaire I had submitted to the court and to the plaintiff.  

 

She responded that they had not had time to discuss the matter with the client and would need 30 days to do so and that my offer was for them to dismiss the case with prejudice. 

 

So no movement on the case and as we are leaving she says "I suppose there's no reason for us to talk about an offer?" to which I responded "If you have an offer for me I will be willing to listen to it".

 

So we went out into the hallway and she starts "So the way this works is if you agree to pay a lump sum amount my client will take a substantial amount of off the total.  So how much do you want to pay."  I replied "You have my offer in the questionnaire, if your client want to make me an offer I will listen". We both sat looking at one another for several seconds waiting on the other to flinch and she finally said "So you don't want to make an offer?  If you don't they won't work with you on anything then."  At this point I almost broke and said a very lowball number but decided against that and just responded "OK then.  As I said, you have what my offer is, I will listen to an offer if one is made otherwise I'll see you back here in a month".  

 

She basically just said "OK then.  By the way I was wondering, do you have an attorney helping you with all this?"   Me "No, I'm doing all of this myself". She replied that "She thought maybe I knew an attorney and they were helping me out with this"

 

So - I think it went pretty well overall and once again want to thank all of the people on the board for getting me this far!

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Great Job! 

 

That is exactly what you needed to do and say. Most of these attorneys are just looking for the easy prey and she realizes that is not you. In my opinion the best strategy in these "discussions" is to say as little as possible.

 

I had one guy go into a spill asking me when I would get my tax return. I ask him what that had to do with anything since I was not negotiating with him. He then cut the amount in half. The next meeting we had he started asking me in a loud voice if this was my debt. I told him I didn't know what he was talking about. He then made an offer cutting the amount in half again. He really got pissed off at me on our third visit when his client had him dismiss the case. 

 

I think by making your offer in writing she really had no clue as how to approach you. The fact that you kept referring to your written offer made it even better. 

 

Good Luck!

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 "So you don't want to make an offer?  If you don't they won't work with you on anything then."  

 

Trust me, they'll work with you. Don't let them intimidate you. They just want you to fold now to save them time and money.

 

 

She basically just said "OK then.  By the way I was wondering, do you have an attorney helping you with all this?"   Me "No, I'm doing all of this myself". She replied that "She thought maybe I knew an attorney and they were helping me out with this"

 

I love those kinds of compliments. Nice work.  :clapper:

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She basically just said "OK then.  By the way I was wondering, do you have an attorney helping you with all this?"   Me "No, I'm doing all of this myself". She replied that "She thought maybe I knew an attorney and they were helping me out with this"

 

I love those kinds of compliments. Nice work.  :clapper:

I wanted to share that because that comment is 85% this board and 15% me.  I've gotten good advice and no matter how things eventually play out, without the help from this forum I'd not be about to mount as effective of a defense as I have thus far.

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