Contempt

If you can’t laugh at these defendants, then you can’t be a defense attorney. Or a prosecutor, most likely. You could be a judge, though — a judge with no sense of humor.

We’ve got a couple of stories today about defendants behaving very badly in court. Hilariously badly. “I could have walked out of this courtroom, but now I’m going to jail for contempt,” badly.

Looking at these two stories together will allow us to analyze one important question about courthouse etiquette: is it worse to flip off a judge, or to physically assault an attorney?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Punk Defendant Potpourri: Punching and Cursing in Court Will Get You Held in Contempt”

Tim Pori

[A]lthough we do not condone Pori’s conduct where he improvidently overscheduled himself and then tried to pick and choose which cases he would try, the contempt judgment is void due to technical procedural noncompliance, and the imposition of sanctions . . . is not supported by the record.

– the State of California’s First Appellate District, overturning a contempt-of-court order against Tim Pori. The Bay Area attorney was held in contempt for missing a trial because he was tied up at another court hearing.

As we mentioned yesterday in Morning Docket, Judge Marcia Gail Cooke (S.D. Fla.) recently issued an omnibus order on multiple motions for sanctions in the high-profile case of Coquina Investments v. TD Bank. The plaintiff, Coquina Investments, moved for sanctions related to various alleged discovery violations.

At a contempt hearing held back in May, Judge Cooke heard testimony from employees of TD Bank and current and former lawyers from Greenberg Traurig, which previously represented the bank. She took the matter under advisement — but not before saying things like, “It is hard for me to describe in words the difficulty throughout this trial related to documents and discovery.”

Now Her Honor has ruled. What did she decide?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: Judge Cooke Sanctions Greenberg Traurig and TD Bank”

The “It firm” of May 2012 would appear to be Greenberg Traurig. It’s the Biglaw behemoth that’s generating the greatest buzz and the most headlines right now (not counting Dewey & LeBoeuf, which will soon find itself in bankruptcy).

Whenever there’s a big story, GT is there. In the past month, it has appeared in these pages as the possible savior of Dewey, the actual savior of Dewey’s Poland operations, and the victim of some alleged rudeness by a divorce lawyer in Texas.

And, of course, Greenberg Traurig has found itself at the center of the TD Bank controversy. Late last week, Judge Marcia Cooke held a contempt hearing, to decide whether Greenberg should be sanctioned due to a discovery debacle.

The hearing spanned two days and featured some high-powered witnesses. What happened?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Greenberg Traurig and the TD Bank To-Do: What Happened at the Contempt Hearing?”

Judging from our traffic stats and the many emails we’ve received about it, the story of the document controversy involving Greenberg Traurig and its former client, TD Bank, has captured the interest of our Floridian readers. So we’ll do one more story about it for now (and then we may keep our powder dry until after the contempt hearing later this month before Judge Marcia Cooke, when there will be bigger news to report).

In our first story, we discussed the allegations made against Greenberg Traurig and one of its former shareholders, Donna Evans. In our second story, we raised some points in defense of ex-partner Evans and her former firm. We believe in providing both sides of a story here at ATL.

Now we’ll share with you a final rebuttal by critics of GT and Evans….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Greenberg Traurig and the TD Bank To-Do: A Final Rebuttal”

Last week we covered a controversy down in south Florida involving Greenberg Traurig. The firm was replaced as counsel in a particular case by its client, TD Bank, after a partner at the firm denied the existence of a document that, it turned out, actually does exist. The partner who allegedly made the statement is no longer with the firm, and next month, Judge Marcia Cooke (S.D. Fla.) will hold a hearing to determine whether the bank should be held in contempt of court as a result of this apparent screw-up.

This does not sound good, to be sure. But subsequent developments, as well as a closer examination of the situation, suggest that GT’s culpability may be overstated….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More About the TD Bank To-Do: In Defense of Greenberg Traurig”

Federal judges don’t take kindly to misstatements by counsel appearing before them. And when the judge is unhappy, the client is unhappy. And when the client is unhappy, outside counsel gets cashiered. It’s not a pretty process.

Let’s travel down to south Florida, where an allegedly incorrect statement by a partner at Greenberg Traurig has incurred the wrath of a federal judge — apparently resulting in the client replacing the firm, and the firm parting ways with the partner.

It’s a cautionary tale for litigators….

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Tim Pori

Time conflicts are an unavoidable part of litigation. Scheduling and re-rescheduling trials and court hearings — it’s simply part of the litigation process. It’s a pain, but most of the time, an attorney shouldn’t get too much flak for a legitimate scheduling conflict.

But this week, one Bay Area criminal defense lawyer has gotten caught between a rock and two murder trials. A local judge was unhappy when he missed a hearing for one murder case because he was in court for another murder case of in another county. Now he’s facing contempt charges and jail time.

This is just another reason why we really should be investing more in teleportation technology….

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Man, have things changed in Mississippi. Mississippi used to be a hotbed for rebellion against the Union, and now it’s putting lawyers in jail for refusing to pledge allegiance to the flag. That’s progress, baby! (Sorry, I just wanted to see what it would look like to write a paragraph portraying Mississippi as progressive about anything.)

Mississippi lawyer Danny Lampley was found in contempt of court and jailed for refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance in open court. According to multiple reports, Lampley stood for the pledge and was “respectful,” but did not recite the words. Chancellor Talmadge Littlejohn (what a name!) then specifically asked Lampley to recite the pledge, and when he refused, he was held in contempt.

An Oxford, Mississippi lawyer who once hired Lampley covered the story on his blog…

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“I have the p*ssy, so I make the rules.”

A t-shirt that resulted in a contempt-of-court charge in Chicago.

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