Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adversity in the courtroom

As I was training two new volunteers today, we happened upon an interesting Motion to Suppress in Judge Richard Conrad's courtroom. The defendant was charged with Grand Theft Motor Vehicle, Possession of Burglary Tools and Petit Theft. Typically not the sort of case we would pay much attention to. But we were waiting for some other cases to be heard, so we watched this hearing.

Judge Conrad has a razor sharp sense of humor, and he's not afraid to pull it out from time to time. Today was no exception.

When an attorney addresses the judge, they are expected to stand up. It is a sign of respect.

Defense Counsel Whitney Boan got a protocol lesson from the judge when she persistently remained seated during her numerous objections to questions asked by prosecutor Mark Interlicchio of his witnesses.  Judge Conrad good-naturedly quipped, with tongue in cheek and a wry smile on his face, "I can't hear you while you're seated." He reminded me of a professor that was coaching his student to learn a valuable lesson.

She appeared to get the message after he told her the second time.

Mr. Interlicchio, in his closing argument, got flustered when the judge peppered him with questions about why the evidence in question should not be suppressed. It was apparent that he was unprepared to adequately defend his position. After a few moments of waiting for the prosecutor to form a coherent answer to one of his questions, Judge Conrad (again with tongue in cheek and the same smile on his face) told him "The US Supreme Court would have a heart attack listening to you."

Embarrassing? Yes, undoubtedly it was. But perhaps he'll be better prepared next time.

Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.   -Zig Ziglar

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