Biglaw, California, Federal Judges, Google / Search Engines, Judge of the Day, Judicial Divas, Technology, Trials

Judge of the Day: Don’t Even Think About ‘Hacking and Coughing’ in His Courtroom

Judge William Alsup

With proceedings in the “World Series” of high-tech law cases underway (aka Oracle v. Google), lawyers have discovered that the judge overseeing the matter is, well… kind of a hard ass.

His idea of work/life balance? Seemingly nonexistent. He arrives at work no later than 5:30 a.m. This judicial drill sergeant reportedly gets his workouts in by running up and down the stairs of the 20-floor federal building where he works. And most of all, he’s a stickler for the rules — he likes a quiet courtroom.

Got a cough? Need to sneeze? You’d be better off calling in sick than entering this man’s courtroom….

The man we’re talking about is U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who was appointed to the bench by former President Bill Clinton in 1999. Prior to his judgeship, Alsup clerked for Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, worked as an Assistant Solicitor General at the DOJ, and did a Biglaw stint at MoFo.

That being said, this well-qualified judge likes to run a ship tight enough to make any cabin boy weep — even Kiwi Camara cowers in fear of this judge. Lawyers from Google quickly came to this realization earlier this week. Legal Pad has the story:

[P]ity the lawyer with a tickle in his throat. During voir dire, someone at the Google table started coughing. “Who is hacking and coughing?” Alsup demanded.

He offered a lozenge, which Robert Van Nest, big-shot litigator at Keker & Van Nest, picked up and handed to someone at his table.

Alsup was back on message Tuesday. “I have a strong view,” that when a lawyer is speaking, they have the “absolute right for full attention” without “hacking or coughing or paper shuffling.”

You hear that? No out of order sounds whatsoever, or Judge Alsup might force you to write a three-page, single-spaced letter about courtroom etiquette. What else does this judicial divo disapprove of?

“I don’t even like it when people get up and back and forth out that door,” he said, prompting one observer to slip out before things got underway.

Later, Alsup stopped proceedings because someone was typing too loudly.

No hacking, no coughing, no paper shuffling, no loud typing? Judge Alsup should just slap a sign on his courtroom door that reads: “No Bumbling Lawyers Allowed.” Lawyers of the “epic fail” variety need not enter.

Coming to Alsup’s Court? Leave Cough, Heavy Hands at Home [Legal Pad / Recorder]
High-stakes Oracle-Google trial has tough veteran federal judge at helm [San Jose Mercury News]
Federal Judge in Oracle-Google Fight Displays Irritation for Coughing and Clacking [ABA Journal]

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