Thursday, December 13, 2012
The Indiana Supreme Court has affirmed a $1.75 million judgment with some pointed language directed to counsel:
...this decision does not lessen our dissatisfaction and frustration with the behavior of counsel during the trial, particulary plaintiff's counsel.
Professionalism and civility are not optional behaviors to be displayed only when one is having a good day. Professionalism and civility are the mainstays of our profession and the foundations upon which lawyers practice law. The public expects it. Fellow lawyers expect it. Our profession demands it.
The court noted excessive objections by both sides and "unnecessary sparring and outright contemptuous conduct of each attorney directed toward the other...by any conservative measure there were at least ten instances of questionable behavior by each attorney."
[a] jury trial is not a free for all...it is similar to an athletic event with two opposing teams competing and a referee observing to ensure that all of the rules are followed. In this trial, [both counsel] committed fouls... It is important that attorneys not lose control of their passion for their client or cause and become too emotionally involved and make the cause personal. In such circumstances, they risk harm to thier client, their reputation, and our profession.
All attorneys in Indiana take an oath and each and every statement in the oath is sacred.
It coming from his home state, I expect Chief Justice Roberts would appreciate the "referee" analogy. (Mike Frisch)