Trueing Up in 2012

“…being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact…real; genuine; authentic; being or reflecting the essential or genuine character of something.”

I was in court last week and obtained an order that transferred real property from the registered owner to my client as an equitable remedy based on a constructive trust. There was some urgency: the property was uninsured and there was a perceived danger of other pending judgments against the legal owner which might be registered against the property.

Recognizing this, the judge wrote out a judgment by hand (about half a page of writing) that could be immediately issued and entered. The judge instructed the deputy to bring the file “downstairs”. I followed. I needed to get the issued judgment into the hands of the solicitor who was standing by to take care of the change of title as quickly as possible.

It’s been a while since I have taken a number in a court office. As I paced, I absorbed the modern surroundings, the efficiency of the electronic numbering system, and the calm busyness of staff at their computer terminals.

Before long I was at the counter. I handed over the judge’s original. It was immediately slid back to me. I needed to make two “trued up” copies to be kept in the court file.

“Can’t you photocopy it? ” I asked. I could certify that the copy was a true copy.

“That’s not how we do it here”.

A document copied by hand must be less reliable as “being in accordance with the actual”, than a photocopy. Not to mention how much longer it takes to make.

How can the arcane practice of “trueing up” have survived the invention of the photocopier, never mind the scanner?

Does anyone know?


  1. This is a great example of the enduring stone age in court technology.  See also: inability to communicate with court via email, obligtion to bring paper copies of everything to court, etc.

    Why does the stone age endure? I blame the legal services  billing model (inter alia).  Most lawyers do not complain much because the wasted time and disbursement costs occasioned by stone age court technology are usually passed on to clients.

     Clients do not complain much because they are diffuse and disorganized as an interest group. Also, the mystification of the law convinces them that litigation simply has to cost as much as it does. So the natural inertia of the bureaucracy prevails. 

  2. Karen Dunn Skinner

    And I thought having to have a fax machine in order to maintain my good standing at the QC bar was ridiculous…

  3. The Last Honest Lawyer

    Down here in sunny California, courts are slowly catching on. Many courts require electronic filing only and this has made filing so much easier, especially when exhibits are involved. More and more courts are going to informal conferences with the judge to rule on various disputes like motions to compel. The time savings to the client are massive and early interaction with the judge on issues that used to be contentious keeps both sides much more in line. These steps and others are much needed. Agree with Noel that billable hour attorneys almost never complain of the inefficiencies as that is what greases the profits…