Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Posted by Alan Childress
A follow-up to yesterday's LPB post about lawyer misconduct in argument and the courts' [increasing?] response to and policing of it: Here is a recent example from Nevada in which its highest court rebuked insurance defense attorney Phillip Emerson for arguments he had made before the jury in four cases, comments which seemed to be inappropriately personal or "vouching"--intentionally so, the court added. The decision was noted and helpfully linked today on How Appealing blog here.
Writes the Las Vegas Review-Journal in "Court Ruling Might Yield Caution Among Lawyers," the December opinion of the Nevada "Supreme Court concluded that Emerson's arguments amounted to misconduct because they 'encouraged the jurors to look beyond the law and the relevant facts in deciding the cases before them.' The court imposed monetary sanctions and referred Emerson to the State Bar of Nevada for disciplinary proceedings." The story quotes UNLV's Jeff Stempel (nationally known for his work on civ pro and ethics) that "he expects the decision to have the dual effect of empowering judges 'to run a little tighter ship' and of making lawyers more reluctant 'to edge toward making arguments based on evidence outside the record.' "