ARE LAWYERS GETTING NICER? HOW I GOT INTO A FIST FIGHT IN COURT WHEN I WAS A BABY LAWYER
Published May 18, 2012
During a recent arbitration, while on a break, the court reporter made an interesting comment to me. She said she was in a deposition and she had to ask the lawyers to speak up. I was intrigued about the concept of lawyers needing a prompt to speak up, so I asked her to explain. She said that during the deposition, the lawyers would softly whisper, “Objection”. Sometimes the lawyers would just raise their hand or a finger indicating that they were objecting.
I responded that this was a first for me and those lawyers must be young or “Baby Lawyers”. (No offense meant to you Baby Lawyers, since I was once one also). The court reporter confirmed that the lawyers were, in fact, young.
This was a change from past ways, and I would say, a positive one. Clients may think that “in your face” lawyers are a good thing, but this type of behavior causes the case to be more expensive and in the end doesn’t help either side. Thinking about those nice young lawyers made me reminisce about being a lawyer back in the 1980s. There were a lot of nice lawyers in the eighties, but there were also some very mean and sneaky ones.
In those days, lawyers didn’t raise their hand to object, they shouted their objections. We also had “speaking” objections which have been outlawed by the State Bar Rules. Speaking objections told your client what to say. For example, your client was being deposed and had just been asked to describe the accident that was the subject of the lawsuit. The Lawyer shouts, “Objection!! My client wasn’t driving the car. He was in the back seat reading a magazine. There is no way he can answer your question.” Now the client knew what to say. He was reading a magazine and couldn’t answer the question.
Another trick was to make the witness you were deposing so uncomfortable they couldn’t think. The lawyer would request the deposition be videotaped. Then the lawyer would have the videographer bring bright lights and beamed them down on the witness. The lights were so bright–and so HOT–that the witness was in an immediate sweat.
I remember another lawyer that would pace around the room during the deposition. The witness would have a hard time concentrating on the questions because the opposing lawyer was gyrating around the room.
I remember when two lawyers got in a terrible fight and hated each other. Every time they had a deposition, they would bring their own videographer. The person taking the deposition of the witness would have a videographer recording the witness. Then they would have an additional videographer trained on the other attorney. How’s that for intimidation!!
I remember a particularly mean lawyer that I had a case with when I was a Baby Lawyer. This lawyer (Nasty Lawyer) taunted me the entire case, constantly reminding me that “girls” shouldn’t try cases. Well, at the end of the trial there was a nasty little incident that occurred in the courtroom. The case had concluded and the Judge and bailiff had left the courtroom. Nasty Lawyer, his clients, and my clients were still in the courtroom. Nasty Lawyer and I were next to the jury box, quizzing the jurors on their verdict. (I had won!!).
I started to ask a juror a question and Nasty Lawyer interrupted me. I said, “You have interrupted me this entire trial, I would appreciate it if you would let me finish my sentence”. He responds, “How did you get to be such a bitch, Carla? I bet your mother is a bitch too!” I respond, “You are the biggest ***** I know.” He responds, “And I bet you love them.”
Upon hearing that, I snapped. I pulled my arm back and punched him in the nose. He fell back against the jury box and said, “No one hits me”. He then promptly shoved me back.
Meanwhile, the jury had their mouths open in shock and my clients were jumping out of the chairs. As luck would have it, my law firm had sent one of the partners to check on me, the Baby Lawyer. The partner steps into the courtroom and sees the Baby Lawyer punching her opponent. Needless to say, the law firm was not impressed.
I am glad lawyers are nicer today. And I don’t punch people in the nose any more.