Signing by Permission as an Officer of the Court
By Jedidiah McKeehan
There are so many things about being a lawyer you have no idea about until you actually become a lawyer and experience it for the first time.
For me, one of those occurred when I was trying to get an order signed by a judge and the other lawyer worked in a different county.
Normally, when a case is going on, there are two lawyers (if not more) on the case. If the lawyers agree on something, for example, the date the trial will occur, they type up when the trial will occur, both lawyers review and sign the order, and then the judge signs it. When the lawyers have approved the order, and the judge has signed it, it is confirmed that something will occur.
The first time I needed to submit an agreed order, and the other lawyer did not have a nearby office, I was left with a dilemma, what is the fastest way to get the order signed by the other lawyer and then the judge?
With some amusement, my boss explained that lawyers are considered, “officers of the court,” and are given more leeway in submitting documents to the court without a lawyer’s actual signature on a document. As long as we had confirmation (through a letter or email) that a lawyer or person had agreed to something, an “officer of the court” could sign someone’s name with their permission.
I am not sure how this got implemented or became a thing that was commonplace, but it is an absolute time-saver.
Can individuals who are not lawyers submit orders by signing the other person’s name with their permission? My experience is that they cannot. Whether warranted or not, Courts trust that lawyers will not sign others’ names to Court documents unless they receive actual permission to do so, and they do not necessarily have that same level of trust for non-lawyers.
Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including family law, criminal, and personal injury. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.