John G. Browning 2016-08-24 21:30:12
That’s Not Supposed to Happen in Court! I remember my trial advocacy instructors and mock trial coaches in law school constantly reminding me that good trial lawyers can think on their feet and react quickly to the unexpected. While very true, I doubt that even the most seasoned litigators could have anticipated any of the following moments in court. Eating Your Words Ever warn adversaries that you’ll make them eat their words? Apparently, some lawyers take this more literally than others. A lawyer in Kyzyl, Russia, was defending a client accused of causing an accident while driving drunk. He asked to review the evidence against his client and was left alone with the file; however, the room had closed circuit cameras in it. The closed circuit footage showed the lawyer reviewing the Breathalyzer report, then first stashing the incriminating document in his bag before taking it out again and, after a moment’s hesitation, putting the paper in his mouth and chewing! When the court secretary returned for the file, the lawyer pointed out that the Breathalyzer report was “missing” and that the case against his client should be dismissed for lack of evidence. Suspicious, the secretary and the judge reviewed the closed circuit television footage and witnessed the lawyer consuming the evidence, many news outlets reported. That lawyer now faces a stiff fine himself, or two years in prison—where the food probably isn’t much better than that blood alcohol report. With a Song in His Heart, Part 1 Many convicted felons have expressed remorse for their crimes at sentencing hearings. But few have done it quite the way 21-year-old Brian Earl Taylor did in March in a Washtenaw County, Michigan, courtroom. Facing 50 to 100 months in prison for carrying a concealed weapon and unlawful imprisonment, Taylor launched into song after describing his plans to avoid drugs and go back to school, according to local news reports. Singing to the tune of the Adele hit “Hello,” Taylor sang “Hello there, your honor/I want to say I’m sorry for the things I’ve done/and I’ll try and be stronger in this life I chose/but I want you to know—that door I closed/And your honor I’m sorry, sorry, sorry.” Video of the impromptu courtroom performance went viral, but don’t look for Taylor to give a concert anytime soon. Judge Darlene O’Brien called Taylor “obviously a talented young man” before sentencing him to two years in prison on the weapons charge and a minimum of 18 months on the unlawful imprisonment charge. With a Song in His Heart, Part 2 Judge Brandon Birmingham of Dallas’s 292nd Judicial District Court decided to whip out his guitar during a recent visit to his courtroom by students from Lincoln High School. But when none of the students knew any Led Zeppelin, the judge entertained them with a rendition of something more youth-friendly—Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.” But not everyone around the courthouse is a Belieber. Brad Lollar of the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office was moved to prepare an unfiled “Motion Requesting the Court Not to Sing Any Justin Bieber Songs,” calling such musical stylings “cruel and unusual punishment.” Baby, baby, baby, oh. TRO-lier Than Thou And finally, in May a resident of Haifa, Israel, filed for a restraining order against a defendant who’s going to be hard to serve: God. The petitioner argued to Judge Ahsan Canaan that over the past three years, the Lord had “exhibited a seriously negative attitude” toward him, according to local news reports. The judge denied the request, calling it “ludicrous.” And although the court noted procedurally that God did not appear for the hearing, theologians and faithful everywhere might beg to differ, since God is, after all, everywhere. JOHN G. BROWNING is a partner in Passman & Jones in Dallas, where he handles commercial litigation, employment, health care, and personal injury defense matters in state and federal courts. He is an award-winning legal journalist for his syndicated column, “Legally Speaking,” and is the author of the Social Media and Litigation Practice Guide and a forthcoming casebook on social media and the law. He is an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.
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