Thursday, January 07, 2010

Inside the Courtroom: I may be a professional, but I avoid being professional

As I touched on earlier (via Twitter), my first court call this morning was in front of a Judge that I had never been before. I was seated at the nearest seat to the bench and my opposing counsel was next to me when the judge entered the courtroom. Opposing counsel is a stoic litigator from one of the largest firms in the city and she definitely exudes the ‘don’t fuck with me if you value your clients life, property and progeny’ vibe.

Her vibe is a wee bit too serious for me. Thus, as the Judge was standing behind the bench about to sit down, I lean over to her and softly whisper “this judge looks like the public defender in My Cousin Vinny.”

I am happy to report as the Courtroom was told to sit down, she began laughing out loud. And then snorted.

But that was not where the fun ended for this court call. I was now in a slap happy mood as I walked to the bench when we were called. My mouth began on autopilot before my brain could catch up with it: “Your honor, we have agreed to postpone the deadline so that we could hopefully settle this matter before…” At that point, my brain caught up with my mouth.

I just was about to finish the phrase that I had just started when I realized “we are balls deep in litigation” is not the educated lingo that I want to loudly pronounce to a packed courtroom. Instead, as I mentally walked myself back from this potential linguistic faux pas, I began to ‘um’ and ‘uh’ with complete confidence. “Uh…before…we are up to our ears in full blown litigation, your Honor.”

The practical note here is to avoid the colloquial when the judge has pronounced ears.

The general note is that I should probably not talk in the Courtroom. Ever.