Monday, November 13, 2006

Law Offices of David A. Boone v. Derham-Burk (9th Cir. - Nov. 13, 2006)

This opinion by Judge (William) Fletcher is about presumptive attorney fee awards in bankruptcy cases. I'm not a bankruptcy person, so I didn't really know how this stuff worked. Hence it was marginally interesting reading on a Monday morning; sort of a glimpse into a different world.

My only comment was about footnote 1. The case revolved around a tiny, tiny, tiny dispute; namely, whether the attorney (David Boone) should have been paid an extra $1,248 in fees. You might think: "I can't believe that someone would spend the time and money to appeal to both the BAP and the Ninth Circuit over such a tiny amount of money. That's utterly irrational." And you'd be right. But, hey, sometimes, when you feel that you've been unjustly deprived of something, it's worth it -- if only internally -- to stand up for the principle of the thing. Even if such conduct is technically irrational.

The reason I mention this is because it helps to explain footnote 1, in which Judge Fletcher mentions that although Boone filed diligently prosecuted his appeal, "Neither the United States trustee nor the Chapter 13 trustee filed briefs in this court or the BAP," noting further that "It would have been of great assistance to us and the BAP if such briefs had been filed." Because the dispute is only over $1,248.00, I can see why no briefs were filed on that side; after all, it would cost more to write them than it would to lose. Plus, even if you don't write them, you may still win (as, indeed, they eventually do, at least in part).

So I'm not really sure that's their fault. (Nor, I think, is Judge Fletcher saying that it is.) My only reaction was that I bet if Judge Fletcher had invited briefs, he'd have gotten them. My strong sense is that, acting pro bono, there'd be plenty of practitioners, law professors, and/or law students who'd be more than willing to write up some pretty good briefs in cases like these these, if only for the experience. Just ask, Willie. I'm sure you'd be surprised (and pleased) by the positive response.

Notwithstanding what many people may think, there are lots of nice lawyers out there willing to help.