Meeting [im]Possible Standards – what it takes to make your case in court

This is how many people think it works in a courtroom: once judges hear all the evidence they must rule in favor of the person who deserves to win.

Not always.

Judges are also required to make sure that proper standards are met. You see, the laws passed by Congress and the state legislatures create a way to redress grievances, to resolve  disputes, and compensate for losses one person causes another. But to win you must not only be able to show you are right; you also have to meet the right standards.

Too Little, Too Late

Let’s say the case is about a car accident. One car ran into another and hurt the people inside, so those people sued the first driver.

And then their case got tossed out of court.


There are a couple of reasons this could happen. One is that the people might not have had enough evidence that the first driver was at fault because they couldn’t find any witnesses to the accident. Another reason is they might have waited too long to bring the lawsuit; once a statute of limitations (the time limit to sue somebody) has run out it’s usually too late to file a case in court.

And sometimes people lose their case because they just don’t know what they’re doing. They not only don’t meet the standards (whether it’s having enough evidence or filing on time), they don’t even know what the standards are. They haven’t done the research necessary to pursue their claim in court.

It’s not that all of this is impossible for people. I’ve had plenty of people represent themselves in my courtroom and succeed. The standards for a court case might be exacting and at times quite technical, but they are not impossible to meet.

Meeting Impossible Standards

Jesus told us God’s standards are high, higher than we could ever reach.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48.)



An unreasonable expectation.


And yet it is not unattainable. It is a gift: attained for us, credited to us, and ours for eternity.

God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:24-25.)

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30.)

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19.)

Impossible standards? Yes, for me on my own, completely impossible.

But for Jesus on my behalf? Completely doable.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27.)

Get ready for the impossible.


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13 Responses to Meeting [im]Possible Standards – what it takes to make your case in court

  1. Shelly says:

    Much is impossible for us, but not for God. We are blessed to have His Spirit dwelling within us so that He can help the impossible become possible for us. Thankful for His Spirit and His empowerment. Be blessed today and find a way to bless someone else.

  2. janehinrichs says:

    Tim, I really appreciate when you share court stuff with us laypeople. It is very interesting!

  3. Jeannie says:

    Tim, I really like it too when you bring your courtroom experience into your posts and link it to our faith. This post reminded me of a sermon our former pastor did. We were new to the church & hardly recognized him when he came up front in costume, playing the role of a person taken up before the “communion police” and trying to explain why he should be permitted to come to the table (good character, church attendance, charitable deeds, etc.). Then he changed to the role of a second person who came before the same committee and simply said, “Jesus invited me to come.” It is impossible to do anything to deserve or earn salvation — it’s grace alone.

    • Tim says:

      That simple thought “Jesus invited me” is in line with his parable of he wedding feast, and his choices to spend time with people who others would never chose to spend time with.

  4. Julie Anne says:

    I have a new fascination for court and its processes after my defamation lawsuit. The court ruled in my favor. My attorney was a rock star and knew how to make it happen because she knew her law and how to present the case well. She didn’t worry if the lower court failed because she knew that it would make sense to a higher court. My friend, Alex, who was also in a similar lawsuit did not fair as well with his lawsuit and is now in appeals. My friends in the Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit have not done as well either. But the judge made the correct decision based on the law – the statute of limitations. Let me just say that I think for abuse survivors, the Statute of Limitations sucks! And there’s my Monday rant.

    When all else fails, I have to trust that the Highest Court and Judge, God – will make the most fair judgment for those who are abused. Sometimes that’s all I can hang onto.

    • Tim says:

      I appreciate your balanced take on this, JA. Too often I hear people blame judges for dismissing suits when the statute of limitations has run out. It’s important for people to remember that these are statutes, and by definition they are not created by judges but by legislatures (Congress for federal law and states for local cases). If there’s a problem with a statute of limitations the remedy is to call on the legislature to change it, not blame the judge who had to apply the statute. (Apparently I had a Monday rant too, JA!)

      • Julie Anne says:

        That’s right – we need to change the law in all states to eliminate statute of limitations. At first I didn’t realize the big deal about this, but as an abuse survivor, now it makes sense.

        I had put aside a lot of my own abuse – ya know, you just want to keep living and who wants to live in the past? But an interesting thing happened when I had children and my daughter was the age I was when I was abused. The memories that I had tried to cover up came flooding back. I wasn’t able to deal with it when I was younger, but now, as a mom and an adult, I was in a better place to deal with it once and for all. That is what happens with a lot of sex abuse cases (mine was not sex abuse). We need to get the laws changed so that those who finally are able to come to grips with their abuse can get justice for the criminal harm done them.

        There’s the second part of my rant that I forgot to tell you about 🙂

  5. Love the illustration! Thank God for Jesus!

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