When judges say no, they mean no

You’ve got to wonder about some lawyers. Are they suicidal, or just IQ challenged?

Imagine you’re an attorney trying a cute ploy. A judge tells you that a particular tactic is unacceptable and you can’t do it. How do you respond?

You could appeal to a higher court, of course, but you wouldn’t just ignore the judge’s directive and try to pull the same fast one again. Or would you?

Back in March, we commented on a case in which the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s order requiring a corporate CEO to submit to depositions.

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance had sought relief from a Jefferson County Circuit Court order requiring depositions from Roger Crandall, the company’s president, chief executive officer and chairman.

“If the party seeking the deposition cannot show that the official has any unique or superior personal knowledge of discoverable information, the circuit court should grant the motion for protective order and first require the party seeking the deposition to attempt to obtain the discovery through less intrusive methods,” Justice Margaret Workman wrote for the Court.

Did the attorneys determined to depose Crandall really believe that the president of a company with 1,800 offices and 13 million clients could shed light on individual policies written in a distant state?

If so, they failed to convince our Supreme Court, which rightly directed them to desist.

Did the thwarted attorneys appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of a reversal? No, they went back to the circuit court and did again what they’d been told they could not do.

Amazingly, Circuit Judge David Sanders sided with the plaintiff attorneys once again – and a short time later was overruled again by our State Supreme Court, this time with a stinging rebuke.

Have the attention-deficient attorneys finally gotten the message, or will they convince themselves that the third time’s a charm? We can’t wait to hear our Supreme Court’s response if they try again.

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