Wednesday, July 06, 2005

How Much Does a Penny Weigh?

Actually, try weighing 100,000 pennies! In In Re: Marriage of Powell, Case No. 11-04-00142-CV [TX 11th Ct. of Appeals, 2005] the former husband was ordered to pay $1,000.00 in attorney’s fees to his former wife’s lawyer. He made the payment – you guessed it, in pennies! According to this article in The Texas Lawyer, he contended he was complying with the court order in his own small way [really small!]. The trial court found this conduct to be “frivolous and ridiculous”, although not contemptuous, and ordered the former husband to pay additional attorney's fees and expenses by cashier’s check, money order, or cash [in specified denominations].

Remember, the “devil is in the _____” and, believe it or not, when an agreement requires payment, unless it clearly specifies some other kind of money, the exact performance required is payment by legal tender [i.e., cash] and a check is not legal tender! So, did he comply?

All to say, in fulfilling our responsibility to discuss the implementation of a mediated settlement agreement [Florida’s Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, Rule 10.420(c) Closure], should we ask “what does payment mean, or, in what form will the payment be?” If the answer is “in pennies”, then . . . .

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