With my foreclosure now days away, and my assigned judge gone for the week without ruling on my motion, I was running out of time to stop the foreclosure with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). As a last ditch effort, I decided to go to the courthouse and ask the “presiding judge” to rule on my TRO (the presiding judge is the court’s version of an on-call doctor).
However, the presiding judge on this Friday wasn’t around. His clerk said that he hadn’t been in that morning, and wasn’t sure what time he’d be back, or even if he would be back. She suggested that I ask one of the other judges to rule on my motion.
In Cherokee County, there are only three judges who could rule on this motion. One of them was missing (the presiding judge), one of them was off (the assigned judge), and one of them was hearing a case on the bench. As I walked from judge’s chamber to judge’s chamber, I was beginning to think this was hopeless.
Just then, I ran into an attorney that I know, and explained to him my predicament. He was there for a hearing of his own, which had just broken for jury deliberations. He didn’t know if it would work, but he suggested that I approach his judge, who was visiting from another court.
I then went back to the presiding judge’s clerk, described the situation, and asked if the guest judge could hear my case. She told me to wait in the law library, while she checked things out. Finally, she said the guest judge would hear my case.
The guest judge was a very nice man — someone who restored my faith in pursuing this lawsuit. After asking me about the details of my case, and reviewing my motion and order, he agreed to sign the order. He did warn me, however, that the other side might object, since he was only a guest judge.
Just as he was about to sign my order, my attorney friend walks in, and says that the other judge who had been busy on the bench had just become available, and was willing to hear my case. With that, the guest judge stopped signing, and said I should let the other judge hear this case.
After waiting an hour or so, I finally entered the judge’s office, and handed his clerk my motion and order. She asked me to wait, while she brought the documents back to the judge for review.
Unlike the guest judge, this judge was very intimidating, as I heard him back in his chamber. “Is this TRO for a custody case?” he yelled at his clerk. Not knowing whether I should reply or not, I yelled back “No, your honor.” After a few more questions like this, I was brought back into his chamber.
“Why hasn’t your judge ruled on this motion?” he bellowed. “I’m not sure, your honor. I expected her to do so, but she left for the week without providing any response” I replied. “I’m here today, because this foreclosure is expected to happen on Tuesday.”
“Well, I’m not about to rule on this without the other side having notice of this hearing” said the judge. “Your honor, I notified the defendants this morning, as indicated in the attached Certificate of Notice” I replied.
From there, I got a long lecture on how I, as a pro se litigant, was not in a position to “certify” anything. Only an officer of the court can do so, or a notary. Either way, my certification must be sworn to under oath and penalty of perjury. To which I replied “I’d be happy to swear to this now.”
Again, he countered that I had provided insufficient notice to the other side for this hearing. I responded by showing him, in my original emergency motion, that the other side had receive notice of my intentions over a week ago on the prior Thursday. I also reminded him that emergency motions are done with short notice and only one party represented all of the time.
With no other reasons given, the judge concluded by saying that this was not his case, and that I should come back on Monday morning and ask my assigned judge to rule on this matter.