It was with great unhappiness that I learned today that one of my eviction cases from last week is not going to work out. The defendants were a couple in their thirties who hit a rough patch in their careers, and fell on hard times. They have taken reasonable corrective action to make things better, but it takes time to do that sort of thing, and in the process they fell behind about three months in their rent. Of course, my clients want them out, which is why I was hired.
Talking to this couple in the courthouse hallway last night made me think back to when times were tough for The Wife and I; they seemed to be in exactly the position that we were in back in when I couldn’t find the work I’d expected to there. Sympathy and empathy may not be the best traits for an attorney prosecuting an eviction case, but I couldn’t help it in this case. After some back-and-forth discussion we reached a nice deal and I felt good about protecting my clients’ interests and still finding a way to accommodate the defendants’ situation and aparently reasonable plan for getting caught up. They even showed me paperwork from a deal that they did which would have generated more than enough commission for them to make up the back rent.
Well, now it’s a week later and they still haven’t made good on their payments. So either their deal fell through or there was never a deal in the first place. Either way, it looks like tomorrow I’ll have to show up in court and turn in a stipulated judgment against them, which is our enforcement mechanism. This couple got as generous a deal as I could persuade my clients to offer. They said they could make good in short order and I gave them an opportunity to do it. They seemed like they had a reasonable solution put together and a reasonable shot at actually delivering on their promise. If they held up their end of the bargain, it would have been like the whole thing never happened, so they could start to reconstruct their lives and move on. Now, that will be much more difficult for them.
I can’t make it better now. I have to do what’s right for my clients. But it didn’t have to be this way, and that’s a real shame.
Doing what my clients need me to do to protect their interests has to come before my personal feelings; that is what it is to be a professional. I made that bargain long ago and mostly, I’m happy with it. But in this case, particularly after I found myself identifying with them previously, a result like this is quite disappointing. So tomorrow when I turn in the stipulated judgment, it will be with a heavier heart than I would have had otherwise.
Update: Later in the day, the couple called in, and we worked out an extension of time for them. So we’ll see what happens in another week.