My first Tax Court case…

1a1602555a852674a56f4ee84964641b[1]I thought this would be a nice way to kick off my blog.  So, Monday, I had the pleasure of actually trying in Tax Court my first in person court case. This has not previously occurred because (1) I only received my Tax Court license a little over a year ago and (2) all of my cases to date have settled. This isn’t a bad thing, and is I am certain settling has always been in the client’s best interests. A case in court is always the last resort. As much as I crave the limelight, there is just no reason to leave matters for a judge to decide if you can avoid it. So how did this all happen? Well, I was there attending a session of the court as I tend to do actually because the Mass Society of Enrolled Agents had a special visit which Keith Fogg had helped to organize and I was attending just for fun. Then a trial occurred with a taxpayer that was appearing unrepresented, pro se, as they say. They were very nervous and Keith asked if I could represent them, pro bono, which I was happy to do.

Now, you might ask, why is there is a picture of Fred Gwynne, who played the judge in My Cousin Vinny, pictured above? Well, first off, the trial was adjudicated very capably and fairly by the Honorable Judge Naga, who I was very impressed with, but I must say, there were moments there where I felt like Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny and the more I replay the thing in my head, the more I feel like Joe Pesci and the judge’s voice actually conflates and I feel like I was in fact talking to Fred Gwynne. Witness the following exchange that actually occurred (minus Fred’s wonderful Southern accent):

Me: “Your honor, I’d like to place this item into evidence”

Judge: “You mean, you’d like to move the item into evidence?”

Me: “Yes, sir, that’s it.”

Judge: “Well, that’s fine, but let’s see if respondent’s counsel has any objection, shall we?”

Other attorney: “We object, your honor”

Judge: “Sustained”

Me left scratching my head.

So, okay, my courtroom mechanics need a little working on.  I have witnessed many trials, but it’s very much like always sitting in the passenger seat.  Nothing like being behind the steering wheel for that first time trying to get somewhere.   For what it’s worth the taxpayer’s have called me and were quite thankful.  And I was quite comfortable speaking and asking questions on direct, etc.  Also in a trial that you’ve prepared for, you wouldn’t have to get items into evidence because everything should have already been stipulated–just to be fair about this.  It’s hard not to keep replaying it in your mind thinking “I could asked the question this way”, or “I could have asked that”.  Anyway, it really was great fun.  I look forward to another opportunity.

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