Nothing's going on.
The phones in the office are dead.
Without any reason to go to court, there is nothing to stimulate our imagination for blogging.
Therefore, as we previously have threatened, we shall re-post some of our favourite posts and invite new comments.
The first of these repeats is the TRIAL LAWYERS'S BILL OF RIGHTS.
Originally posted January 1, 2006, but just as relevant today.
HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Our favorite Bard wrote “It is the purpose that makes strong the vow.”
Here’s an idea that’s been on our minds for a while:
TRIAL LAWYERS' BILL OF RIGHTS.
The Trial Lawyer needs protection from their biggest enemy.
The one entity that can with a wave of the hand completely screw up years of hard work and preparation.We are speaking of course of the Judiciary, some of whom are our wonderful Robed Readers.
Herewith [ and we strongly invite submissions] is our Trial Lawyers Bill of Rights:
A TRIAL LAWYER SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT
1) TO BE FREE FROM BEING EMBARRASSED AND CHEWED OUT IN FRONT OF OUR CLIENT.
We know we say and do stupid things from time to time. But Judges have chambers- and there’s sidebar. We have enough troubles with our clients without having to deal with them after a Judge has just dressed us down for something in court. [ Half the time the judge is upset because we’re late. Well, usually we’re late because we just spent 45 minutes doing an arraignment in front of the Governor's latest new nominee to the bench. ] Does Judicial demeanor matter? Ask Judge Larry Schwartz.
2) TO AT LEAST ONE WEEK AFTER RETURNING FROM VACATION BEFORE STARTING TRIAL.
This one really frosts our ass a little bit. We have an important trial. And when the Judge suggests a date, we tell the Judge we have an FACDL Ski trip for that week. So the Judge gives us a big smile and tells us that sure, she’ll accommodate our vacation, “after all , lawyers are entitled to a vacation as well.”
And then she sets the trial for the Monday after we return that Sunday.
Hey- wake up!
Don’t you know what’s involved in a trial? Don’t you realize that no matter how well an attorney plans and prepares that there are literally dozens of last minute problems that spring up?No. We can’t fly across the country Sunday night, stagger home at 1:00 am and be fresh as a daisy and ready to go to trial Monday morning. If Judges don’t want us to believe that the reason the majority of them became Judges is because they couldn’t try a case, then show some common sense and give us at least a week from retuning from a trip before trial. This may surprise some of you future Supreme Court nominees, but other than the really successful or truly awful lawyers, the rest of us have more cases than the one case clogging up your precious docket. We have clients that want to see us, employees that need guidance and your equally dense colleagues who want us to try a case in their division on the day we return from vacation.
Sometimes, and we really mean this, we wonder how some of you even got into law school.
3) THE RIGHT TO AS MUCH TIME AS WE NEED IN VOIRE DIRE.
First of all, many lawyers who get stuck in a trial don’t try a lot of cases and couldn’t conduct a good voire dire with Perry Mason sitting with them as second chair. So you needn’t worry about them taking too much time. They ask a few moronic questions about which section of the Herald the juror’s husband reads, and then they stagger back to their table sweating bullets and grab their law school text on opening statements to see what to do next. For the rest of us, the ones who devote time and energy to our craft, a good voire dire is crucial. It is the most important part of the trial.We are not asking you to give us a long leash. Keep the leash short. But as long as we’re asking the right types of questions, then our clients (be it a defendant or the people of the state of Florida) are getting their moneys worth from the advocate they hired. Just leave us alone and let us do our job. Surprisingly, when that happens, the Jury system works just fine.
You want a short voire dire? Get an appointment to the Federal Bench.
4) THE RIGHT TO BEGIN AND END THE TRIAL AT A DECENT HOUR:
We see this with a lot of new Judges, especially in County Court. Trying to establish some sort of macho reputation, they work until 11 PM and then send the jury out at midnight.What are you people thinking?Would you want the most important day of your life in the hands of someone who has been in the Justice Building since 8 AM making a decision about your life some 16 hours later?What’s so difficult about coming back the next day?
That’s a good start. We have cast our bread upon the waters. Lets see what happens next.