In Uncategorized on 08/05/2020 at 10:18

Perhaps Judge David Gustafson is also a fan of the Houston youtube mechanic, as today he sends that message to IRS and Bryce Thompson Osoinach & Cameo Marie Wall, Docket No. 3472-19S, filed 8/5/20.

IRS is a couple days late (hi, Judge Holmes) with a status report. Ordinarily, an obliging jurist will make a COVID-19 allowance. But Judge Gustafson had told the parties three (count ’em, three) months ago to get moving. Instead, he got this: “Petitioners presented some documents to Appeals that required the Exam function to review. This has delayed the consideration of this case. Respondent will work with Appeals and Exam to make sure the documents are reviewed as quickly as possible given all the logistical challenges taking place at this time…. In order to make sure progress is made in the next few months, respondent suggests requesting an updated status of the case in October, 2020.” Order, at p. 1.

Judge Gustafson hits the brakes.

“Without meaning to overlook the logistical challenges and other difficulties that the parties are facing during the current pandemic or to be ungrateful for their work, the Court notes that the progress recently reported has been disappointing, and notes that counsel’s expectation (‘progress … in the next few months’ that might yield only an ‘updated status of the case in October, 2020’) is out of keeping with the Court’s expectation.” Order, at pp.1-2.

So we’ll have a teletrial in October.

STJ Diana L. (“The Taxpayer’s Friend”) Leyden is nowise behindhand with Donald C. Karn, Jr., Docket No. 10694-19S, filed 8/5/20.

STJ Di had ordered the parties to play nice and file a Rule 91 stip. IRS said they’d sent one to Don.

Don is peeved that IRS took a year-and-a-half to produce, not a copy of a W-2, but “a computer-generated printout of the alleged W2 form. It was not a copy of the original form, and it took respondent over a year and a half.” Order, at p.1.

Don also said he wouldn’t do a phoneathon with IRS.

STJ Di sets teletrial for October. If anyone wants a phoneathon, give STJ Di’s chambers a ring. But do as set forth in the title first set forth at the head hereof (as my high-priced colleagues would say).

I objected to teletrials because the public couldn’t watch them. But I’m coming around to the idea that they are the tsunami of the future. They stop the waltzing, and concentrate the litigants’ minds wonderfully. Now if the videos could be posted online for the public to view, that would be perfect. The whole “pick a venue” issue would vanish. All trials would be held at The Glasshouse server, wherever that is. Teletrials would do away with the need for judges, IRS’ counsel, parties’ counsel, litigants and witnesses to go on the road, saving a bundle of money and a bushel of time.  There are no juries in Tax Court trials, so that’s not an issue.

If we get permanent teletrials out of this pandemic, it’s truly an ill wind that blows no one some good.

Edited to add: And I’m certainly not suggesting that calendar call pro bono volunteers be shut out, and helpless self-representeds be left to a cruel fate. Break-out rooms are a standard feature in most teletubby software, and online trials give pro ses and the vols a chance to get together well in advance of trial with Zoomies, Facetimes, and like software. Instead of the “justice in the hallways” that I see at in-person trials, the LITCs and pro bonos can be on-call, and space-and-time concerns eliminated. It’s a total win-win.





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