Friday, January 31, 2020

Satisfied Client Wanted to Hire Me Again

A former client made my day by touting how much she liked  the way I practiced and  handled her first matter. She wanted to hire me again on another unrelated case.

Unfortunately, I don't practice in that area. Nevertheless, she made my day. I must be doing something right.

Changing how I practice by getting rid of the slower personal service is not an option.  Impatient speed demons can go around and find someone else.

This call and many others show slow and steady wins the race.

Sunday, January 26, 2020


Early this week I sat in court in Savannah while a woman tried to explain why she had not paid rent.  Her excuse related to health problems.  This was no excuse or defense under the law.  Unfortunately, she just glanced over a defense that may have afforded a few weeks, instead of the 7 days.

More specifically, before a landlord files a dispossessory, he or she must demand possession of the premises beforehand.  Oftentimes, landlords are quick to the draw and miss this step.  She breezed over this omission by noting he just said I was late and then I received this notice for court.

This failure to give notice should be given in your answer as an affirmative defense.  However, if you have already filed your answer, you can still raise it in court.  However, in that instance, you have the burden of proving the defense. 

In the case in Savannah, the landlord's attorney, but not the landlord appeared. 
Therefore, if the poor woman had just focused on that defense, above all, she would have won because there would have been nobody there to dispute her assertion. 

Again, if the case had been dismissed on this technicality, it would have allowed her approximately
2-3 weeks to find a new place.

An experienced tenant attorney would have given her that defense in a short phone call or a 30 minute consultation.  This information would have armed her with a defense to represent herself and win in court.  Don't short change yourself by doing it alone.  Get some help with an experienced tenant attorney. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Pro Se Litigants - Second Time Around

I've received calls from 2× pro se litigants who allowed hubris to cost them a case.  More specifically, they represented themselves in a landlord-tenant matter and won against a lawyer.
Now, they'll Clarence Darrow and are telling everyone within ear shot.

Next time the "winner" has a dispute, he thinks lawyers are a waste of money. He's not even going to seek a free phone consultation.  This time, the internet lawyer loses. He waits weeks after the hearing to call a lawyer.  In a normal civil action in Georgia, a 2-3 week delay isn't fatal. However, dispossessory/eviction cases aren't normal civil actions.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your position, eviction cases are on a rocket docket.  7 days after a judgment for the landlord, the tenant must vacate or file an appeal.  Paying the landlord the judgment won't save you unless you entered into a settlement agreement to stay or the order specifically states you can pay then stay.

If you don't understand what's in an order, schedule an office visit to learn your rights and responsibilities. If you don't understand all terms in a settlement agreement, you should consider the pros and cons of settling versus going before a judge.