Dream of: 01 August 1993 (2) "Tiger Judge"

Two other attorneys and I were appealing a bankruptcy case in the court of appeals. Three other attorneys were on the other side. At the hearing on the appeal, the judge was a crusty fellow (probably in his mid 50s). The hearing was arranged so first an attorney from one side would speak, then an attorney from the other side. The sides would alternate until all three attorneys had spoken two or three times each.

The issue on appeal was whether a bankruptcy debtor paying for home mortgage arrearages over a period of time while in bankruptcy should have to pay interest on the arrearages. My side took the position that paying interest wasn't necessary. However, I thought we would lose, because I knew a recent United States Supreme Court decision indicated the Supreme Court would find against us.

I was the last attorney to speak to the judge for our side on the first round. I didn't have much to say, and I didn't present myself well. I didn't think the judge was impressed with what I had had to say.

When I had finished speaking to the judge, I returned to my two associates and we talked about the case. I was convinced we were going to lose. But then I began thinking perhaps we should change the character of our argument. Perhaps we should agree that interest should be paid in a case when the house was worth more than what was owed on it by the debtor. But in a case where the house was worth less than what the debtor owed, then interest shouldn't be paid on the arrearages while they were being paid in bankruptcy.

I thought we could show the other side hadn't presented any evidence the house was worth more than what was owed. And we could also show the mortgage agreement itself didn't provide that interest would be paid on any arrearages. If we could show these facts, I thought we still stood a good chance of winning.

As I tried to explain my reasoning to the other two attorneys, I said that two sections of the bankruptcy code were at issue. One section talked about "arrears", and one section talked about "arrearages." I explained that a careful reading of the two sections would reveal that interest clearly shouldn't be paid on arrearages. I explained, however, that the Supreme Court had distorted the plain language to provide that interest must be paid.

My companions argued again before the judge, and again it was my turn. As I walked toward the judge's bench, I realized I was walking along a field and the bench was out in the field. Before I reached the bench, I looked to my right and saw some cows running by. They were followed by a large orange tiger with black stripes, as big as a cow.

Just before I reached the bench, I realized it was the judge who had transformed into a tiger. Obviously I wasn't going to be able to argue the case if the judge had turned into a tiger and run off.

Over next to a fence, I saw a small donkey. I was unsure, but thought the other animals were afraid of the donkey.

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