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WRONG ADDRESS EARNS EXTRA COURT APPEARANCE Pop quiz: In which Alameda County courthouse is the law and motion department located? Answer incorrectly, and you might have to report to the law and motion judge. Just ask Douglas Poulin. Last month, Poulin asked to be removed as defense counsel in a contract dispute over the management of two Oakland apartment buildings. In a tentative ruling, Judge Frank Roesch denied Poulin’s request, forcing him to stay on the case because he got the courtroom address wrong. Poulin’s notice to withdraw as counsel included the address of the Rene C. Davidson courthouse. The law and motion department is located two blocks away, in the U.S. Post Office building. In his tentative ruling, Roesch said he would be inclined to let Poulin withdraw from the case � if he showed up at a Sept. 13 hearing and asked once more for the withdrawal, this time noting the correct courtroom address. Reached by phone before the hearing, Poulin blamed the error on his staff. “We had a temporary legal secretary screw that up,” he said, noting that the secretary was no longer working with him at The Williams Firm in Walnut Creek. When asked if the staffer was fired because of the mistake, Poulin indicated he wasn’t in the mood to further discuss the situation. Roesch conceded that Poulin’s mistake was “picky” and “technical.” But, the judge told the Recorder last week, it’s a common error that sometimes causes lawyers to come bursting into court five minutes late and out of breath because they mistakenly went to the Davidson courthouse first. “You don’t want people to be prejudiced because they went to the wrong courthouse,” Roesch said. In the end, Poulin got off easy. He managed to withdraw the day of the hearing � even though he made his courtroom appearance by phone.

Matthew Hirsch

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