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Why Oppose When They Can Amend?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on November 22, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

"Judicial economy" is a hard-sell to some clients.

They don't really care about the judge's workload or the time it takes to prepare, oppose, or argue a motion. They want results, and they want it now.

If you change the expression to "client economy," however, it gets a little easier to explain. Sometimes it makes economic sense not to go to court.

Don't Argue, Amend

In a high profile case, it might be a little harder to explain because the press is there. For example, government lawyers in Maryland agreed to postpone their argument against a wrongful death case against the state.

Former Gov. Jack Markell is named in the lawsuit, which alleges the state is responsible for the death of an officer during an 18-hour siege at a correctional facility. The government attorneys said they were discussing an amendment to the complaint.

"We wish to proceed efficiently before the court and so are jointly requesting a postponement of Monday's argument on the pending motions to dismiss," C. Malcolm Cochran IV told the court.

Judge Richard G. Andrews granted the request without delay. The continuance may have been lost on the media, but it saved the court time and moved the case along.

Without Delay

In criminal cases, plea bargaining is a key to judicial economy. It works because most criminal defendants face likely convictions, and prosecutors don't have time to try every case.

"Judicial economy simply means that one goal of the judicial system is to conclude cases in an efficient and speedy manner," FindLaw explains.

In civil cases, judicial economy comes into play as litigators balance practical solutions against judicial resolution. Generally, it's better to work with opposing counsel than through them.

When it comes to a motion to dismiss, as in the Maryland case, government attorneys worked with plaintiffs' counsel by continuing the hearing so that the plaintiff could amend the complaint. That saved the court -- and the clients -- time and money.

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