Federal Judges Dig My Funk; The Rest of You Are On Your Own


They’re probably talking about someone else, because I thought that grandstanding like a preening buffoon was how you should always act in federal court:

Generally, the judges said they were pleased that the level of civility among lawyers had increased in recent years, with a greater show of cooperation and respect among attorneys. Still, in discussing which behaviors they like seeing from lawyers and which antics make their blood boil, the discussion focused on careful use of technology and bad body language.
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Lawyers shouldn’t be acting up in a courtroom, whether it’s in front of a jury or not, the judges made clear. As examples of bad behavior, they cited lawyers jumping up and down in front of them, rolling their eyes while chuckling with each other during proceedings and repeatedly shaking their heads during arguments by opposing counsel.
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“There’s no reason to ever show your emotions at that level in front of a judge,” said Valdez, who admonished the lawyer jumping in front of her.
shim-7495736The standard becomes particularly important when a jury is involved because of the distraction it can present, they said. St. Eve noted one juror she talked with was upset with how an older male lawyer was treating a younger female colleague at the lawyers’ table. Kennelly said some of his jurors complained recently because attorneys were “demeaning” others with the eye-rolling and chuckling.

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“I cannot stress enough how much juries really do pick up on what the lawyers are doing,” St. Eve said.

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The suggestion extends to treatment of opposing counsel, they said.

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“You’ve got to be a pro when you’re in there, and what a pro does is they wait for their turn and then they talk,” Kendall said.

Not shake your head demeaningly while your opposing counsel is addressing the Court? Not roll your eyes while chuckling with colleagues? Not emoting wildly or grandstanding like a raging bull? Hey, you’ve just pretty much emptied my bag of tricks, though I guess I can still insist on going first even if it’s not my motion. Now that I think of it, nothing was mentioned about raising new arguments and submitting new cases in a binder for the judge for the first time at oral argument (oh yeah, that’s state court).

What will the “old lions” of our local Bar do without these tried and true, field-tested techniques? Come on people, we all know who they are.