Washington divorce lawyer Rita Bank is protesting an attempt to reschedule a legal malpractice trial against her. She's arguing that the plaintiff's reasons – a scheduled trip to China to be sworn in as president of an international economics group and meetings with high-level finance ministers regarding pressing global economic crises – shouldn't be considered a valid excuse for a delay.
Tied to another case, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia Richard Leon has been forced to reschedule Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s trial against Bank, his former divorce lawyer, on several occasions.
Yesterday, Leon notified the parties that he would need to move the start date from June 28 to July 5. Later in the afternoon, Stiglitz asked the court for a new date, explaining that he already had plans.
According to his motion (PDF), from July 4 to 8, Stiglitz is set to be sworn as president of the International Economic Association at the organization’s Sixteenth World Congress in Beijing.
When the conference ends, Stiglitz says he’s then scheduled to travel to Egypt, Angola, Greece and Spain. In Greece, he’ll be meeting with the prime minister to “to discuss its current economic crisis, which is obviously a threat to global economic stability.” In Spain, he’ll “meet with senior government officials concerning Spain's current economic crisis as well.”
“Plaintiff respectfully asserts that good cause exists for the requested continuance, and justice requires it,” he states.
Bank, however, filed her opposition (PDF) shortly after. She notes that almost every attorney involved has been forced to cancel plans at some point in this case – in her case, a pre-paid family vacation – and that Stiglitz shouldn’t be treated any different.
“Stiglitz’s schedule is no more important than that of Bank, witnesses, experts, counsel, and certainly the Court,” she argued. “After all, Stiglitz is the Plaintiff. If he wants to pursue this case, it is incumbent upon him to make himself available for trial on the date set by the Court.” The phrase “Stiglitz is the Plaintiff” is in bold, italicized letters.
Bank has referred questions about the case to her attorney, Richard Simpson of Washington’s Wiley Rein, who was not immediately available for comment. Stiglitz’s Crofton, Md.-based lawyer, David Whitworth, also could not immediately be reached.