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» Practice in General, Procedural Rules, Professionalism » Rules v. Standard Practice

Rules v. Standard Practice

Recently, I amused a judge because I followed the text of a rule of criminal procedure instead of doing what everyone else in the jurisdiction does. He told me I deserved a “gold star,” and I’m not sure how I feel about that. According to the rule, which is very clear, I was responsible for editing a copy of a physicians report within 24 hours of receipt and returning it to the court so it could be made available to the State. Apparently, most attorneys just get the report, redact it at their leisure, and give it to the State a day or so before the hearing.

At every step of a case, I tend to look at the governing statue or rule whenever there might be a deadline or a specific way of doing something. That’s my policy no matter how well I think I know what to do, and it normally gives me a great deal of confidence that I am doing everything correctly. Unfortunately, it occasionally results in strange looks.

In a situation where I know the rule and would be violating it by following unwritten standard practice, should I stick to what’s written or follow the crowd? Personally, I can’t imagine ignoring an applicable rule, no matter how inexperienced full compliance makes me look.

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