Like many of our fellow humans, my wife and I took a few hours away from our respective offices yesterday to watch something that hasn’t happened in Kansas City since before the first intrepid Frenchmen paddled up the Mighty Mo seeking beaver pelts. Just after noon CDT, we donned some funny cardboard glasses and watched a total solar eclipse for about 45 seconds. This sort of event has been monumental in history, cajoling warring factions to the peace table, and offering a backdrop for great literature. And we had an absolute ball. I really didn’t think it would have an emotional impact on me, but it did. As the sky darkened, the temperature tanked, crickets began chirping as if it were dusk, and the streetlights came on.*
Our soundtrack was a whole lot of fun, too…
- Destination, Moon (Dinah Washington rather than Nat King Cole)
- Fly Me to the Moon (Frank Sinatra’s version, far more upbeat than Tony Bennett or Astrud Gilberto)
- Dark Side of the Moon (FLOYD)
- Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler… the literal version is hysterical)
- And, to Peggy’s puzzlement (until the Saratoga verse), Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain.
Now enter The Honorable Steven D. Merryday of the Middle District of Florida, who took my Carly Simon reference to completely new heights with a tongue-in-cheek order regarding a government motion for continuance. The AUSA’s offered grounds? The key FBI agent had already bought plane tickets to Charleston (or Nashville or Kansas City or Portland) to see the eclipse in its full glory.
Now, as I started to read the thing, I thought to myself “outstanding– a judge who recognizes the monumental events here.” But a few para’s into it, I caught on to his logic. By the end, it was pretty apparent that somebody in the Justice Department played fast & loose with the facts. Motion denied.
I have to think that if they hadn’t just pulled assertions out of a hat, His Honor might have granted the motion. Who knows? (Read the order on Scribd here.)
So what does this have to do with Hague service? Not a thing. Unless you recognize that pulling assertions out of a hat is dangerous in the law. Sooner or later the judge is going to get wise to your antics and smack you.
Examples of such antics:
- Oh, just serve the Secretary of State— that’ll suffice.
- Oh, just mail the thing. No big deal.
- Oh, just hire a process server— that’s all you need to do.
Far better to do it right the first time and not become the subject of listserv discussions** across a wide swath of the country.
* Thanks to my good friend and law school classmate Carl Scarborough (and his wife, Doreen) for letting us camp out in the zone of totality.
** And a hat tip to my colleague David Ransin for bringing the M.D. Fla. order to my attention on the Solo & Small Firm Listserv of the Missouri Bar.