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  • Scott Gardner

Practicing Law in SW Va - 2020 Edition

The new year starts out with two miracles - depending, of course, on how you define a miracle. The first was at a foreclosure sale on the stairs of a courthouse in the mountains. I have a few regular house flippers attending and a first time woman with an enormous purse, large enough to hold a medium sized morkie. I explain I need to see her down payment before she can bid. She opens her purse . Its full of cash - not a banded stack of 100s from the bank, but a stash of assorted 10s, 20s, 50s and 100s, crumpled and folded like she just emerged from an all night poker game (so I've heard). She then produces a King James Bible the size of a Webster's Dictionary and says she would like to say a prayer before the sale. Now I'm not inclined to debate or engage in the obvious conversation, but as politely as I can, I tell her she absolutely can pray but I've got to call the sale on the hour. I start my announcement and she puts her hand on the Bible and starts praying....out loud. I finish the announcement and start the bidding. She reaches out, grabs my arm and says, "I'm not quite done." At this point, I'm looking for a bolt of lightning from the sky so I wait. The flippers run through their bids and when they're done, she touches my arm again and says, "I'll take it at that price and a dollar more." She explains that people from her church gave her the down payment and 20 minutes of counting she has the required amount with $30 to spare. Miracle #1.

Courthouse with Civil War Statues and a canon out front. Several weeks ago, a case I'm involved in was continued and, as the lawyers were leaving, the judge stated, "When we come back, I want someone to explain to me why there's a subpoena in the file for a dead man." The rest of the story - Back in court today and there's miracle #2 - the dead man sitting at the Defendant's table (with no apparent strings attached to his wrists, ala Weekend at Bernies). Now, I was told on the first day of law school that the first thing you lose as a lawyer is your common sense. Which means you have to be able to argue anything on behalf of your client, regardless of the facts. So, the more lawyers you have on a case, the more likely someone is going to say something crazy. I counted 5 suits and I wasn't disappointed. It appears to avoid this case, among other things, the defendant faked his death and moved to Florida. ( his wife previously presented a fake death certificate) The judge said he wanted to have the defendant explain his actions and, at that point, his lawyer jumped up and said (I kid you not) the court could not compel him to testify because the court had already entered an order proclaiming him dead. I guess this was the Dead Men Tell No Tales Defense. This was actually batted around around the room for a few minutes. Now, I claim no legal expertise in the area of resurrection and was actually a little dizzy from pondering the Hokies transfer portal issues while waiting for the case to be called, so I did not enter that fray. The judge asked if I had anything to add, at which point I said it was my legal opinion that the defendant was in fact alive and I had to aver that he was not most sincerely dead but only merely dead. I so wanted to say, "we're not in Kansas anymore," but I just took my order and ran. 24 days into 2020, its looking like a good year. Second miracle in a month deserved a cigar on the way out of town listening to a little AC/DC Thunderstruck. #WalkingDead #AcesAndEights

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