”Fairly new attorney although in her 30s. Used to be a paralegal and decided to become a lawyer. Teaches paralegal classes at the community college.” Holt proclaimed to me. “She’ll learn. She just needs some seasoning.”
“You deduced that from the phone call?” I asked.
“No, I Googled her.”
Holt started flipping through the case file on his desk. “Where the devil did she get the husband’s income? I don’t remember giving it to her. Ah, here it is. It’s in his tax return. But she used his 2019 return and she did not deduct his $57,000 in business expenses.”
The next day, Holt scanned and emailed the husband’s documents to Moriarty with a request that she send reciprocal documents from her client. Moriarty said she would.
Instead she sent a draft Consent Order under which the husband would pay the wife’s living expenses plus insurance until the trial. She said that since the husband had not provided any proof of assets before the marriage, the wife was asking for half of everything.
She declared this was her last offer and that the husband could either sign it by the end of the week, or she would, as they say, see him in court. She added that she now doubted a settlement could be reached after the last telephone call.
I watched as Holt attacked his computer keyboard like a mad piano player with fingers flying in all directions at once.
Draft No. 1: Dear Professor Moriarty: You never asked for statements prior to the marriage. They are not the subject of our discussion. Besides, your client is well aware that mine did not come to the marriage penniless.
“No, strike that.” He started again.
Draft No. 2: Professor Moriarty: Responding only to those parts of yours that move the case forward…
“No, I will rephrase.”
Draft No. 3: Professor Moriarty: Attached you will find statements from my client’s accounts which predate the marriage. I cannot advise my client regarding your alimony proposal until I receive your client’s tax returns and therefore am unable to meet your deadline. Sincerely yours, Sterling Holt
I have always admired the way Holt’s brilliant and somewhat eccentric mind works as draft by draft he drained blame, ego and drama from his reply. The resulting correspondence was lean, purposeful and business-like.