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The Number One Pitfall Should You Decide to Litigate

Every readily definable group has its own culture, and that culture dictates not only how its members are to behave, but also how the adherents of that culture are to interpret the surrounding world and the role of the individual within it.

When it comes to cultural dictates, the legal community is among the least elastic, because before law students are allowed to become attorneys and graduate on to judgeships, they must first undergo many years of rigid socialization, which is such an integral part of their training that, for most, the perspective of the group becomes ingrained in their every perception. Those who do not share those perceptions tend to be weeded-out.

The fact is that noise has been conclusively proven to be a severe health hazard. However, within the strictly conformist culture of the legal community, noise is, nonetheless, still viewed as an inert irritant that causes no real harm. And that viewpoint is profoundly entrenched within that community.

Accordingly, like all those around them in their like-minded tight-knit subculture, judges almost always regard noise-related litigation as a waste of everyone's time.

In fact, it is difficult to overemphasize the passionate vehemence with which most judges detest noise cases and the attorneys who bring them. Attorneys who pursue such cases are considered, at best, to possess questionable judgment and thought to be desperate for work, while lawyers who force such cases on through the trial process are regarded as irresponsible, self-indulgent, and disrespectful of the courts valuable time.

For an attorney trying to build a career, your capacity to get along in the long term is often dependent upon your willingness to go along in the here and now. Thus, it can be extremely intimidating for a lawyer with a family to feed and a career to think of when the judge overseeing a pre-trial noise case peers over the rim of his glasses and exclaims in an emphatic tone, "This is a total waste of the court's time. I want this case resolved out of court and I want it settled now - today."

Compromising Away Your Right to Live in a Quiet Home

Therefore, in every noise case the time will almost certainly come when the judge will begin to put extreme pressure on your attorney in an attempt to motivate him to persuade you to agree to an out-of-court compromise settlement.

However, in a noise dispute, a compromise settlement really amounts to a significant loss for the person bringing the lawsuit. After all, the entire point of taking the noise perp to court in the first place is to quiet your home. Therefore, by definition, any sort of compromise on your insistence upon a totally quiet home will necessarily involve you agreeing to allow your neighbor to force-feed at least some amount of noise into your living quarters.

Thus, in a worse case scenario, you may well spend many thousands of dollars and endure many months of the angst that is the inevitable byproduct of any legal proceeding, only to discover that, at the end of the case, not only does some significant amount of noise continue to be forcibly projected into you home, but that, as a result of the compromise settlement to which you agreed, your overly-loud neighbor now has the courts written permission, backed by your signature, to force-feed noise into your living quarters for forever on into the future.

The best way to avoid that disastrous outcome is to address the issue with your attorney early on. If you are not willing to compromise on the amount of noise being projected into your home, be sure to tell your attorney that, and be certain that he has a plan for how he is going proceed when the judge gets antsy and starts putting pressure on him to align his behavior with the legal community's normative view of noise as a harmless irritant.

This page is part of Section Three:
the Law section of