Monday, September 13, 2010

Lawyers Who Text in Court, LL Cool J and Other Scholarly Musings

The Curmudgeonly Lawyer
On my way to the courthouse, I passed by a large gaggle of children waiting at a bus stop with their heads bowed down.  Each of the back pack laden kids appeared to be furiously texting messages. They were so immersed in their task, I wondered which one would lift their head up to see if the school bus arrived.  Apparently, texting has become a major problem in schools as students spend hours messaging each other in class.  My teacher friend informs me that the LOL informal style of messaging has even shown up in their daily schoolwork.

Now it seems the problem has spread to our courthouses.  A few days ago in Baltimore, 18 year old Demonte Jones was sentenced to a month in jail after being convicted of assaulting a deputy sheriff who asked him to stop texting during court proceedings.   In Tooele, Utah, a woman was thrown in jail for two days after she sent texts from the courtroom in an attempt to warn her husband to hide some assets.   And in Miami-Dade County, Florida,  a Circuit Court judge dismissed a civil fraud case brought by a developer, when  the court deemed text messaging between two of the developer's officials, one of whom was on the witness stand, as “completely…absolutely outrageous. 

Of course, its not just coming from clients.  I have been noticing an increasing number of attorneys using their Blackberries, i-Phones, Droids, and thingamabobs in the midst of court proceedings.  I watch them bow their heads and furrow their brows as sausage like fingers click clack messages to their offices.   Call me old fashioned, but I find it a tad bit disrespectful.  While I agree that waiting your turn can be a bit boring, as an attorney you should probably hold yourself to a certain level of decorum in the courtroom.  Maybe reconsider slouching or putting your feet up?  Maybe reading the sports section in the paper can wait for recess.  And what's the deal with those attorneys who check their schedules on their phones while standing before the judge. (as I channel my inner Seinfeld)  Admittedly, this is something I have been guilty of doing. 
This is an exchange I observed in Superior Court:

Judge: Counsel are you available on the 7th.
Tech Lawyer: One moment your honor (lawyer hunches over and leers at his i Droidberry) beep boop beep bop beep. No, your honor.
Judge How about the 8th?
Tech Lawyer:  beep boop beep bop beep (phone rings to the sound of LL Cool J's "Jingling Baby" ) I apologize your honor.
Judge:  Sigh....
Editors note: In case your not familiar with that particular ditty....

LL Cool J - Jingling Baby

If we continue at this rate, I imagine the next round of evolution will produce hunched over humans with small text friendly fingers.  The question remains.  Will we be seeing more cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendonitis and cricked necks among our bar bretheren.  Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill?  Your thoughts...


Rich said...

I buy most of what you say about the impolite nature of texting and even emailing while in Court.
But I am guilty myself of checking my calendar on my Blackberry while in front of judges. And there is no beeping involved.
My calendar is kept on our office server and updates on my Blackberry almost instanteously. I could not schedule matters without refering to my calendar. And that's where it is.
What's the big deal?
Even one of our judges who, two years ago -- made me leave my "Palm," outside the Courthouse -- has no objection to my looking today at my Blackberry calendar.


Mikethelawstudent said...

I've witnessed the droid berry calendaring many times! Its shocking at first but soon enough all of our scheduling will be done on Ipad's anyway. (why do they have to be chubby fingers when the lawyer is texting. just saying)



Adrian Mark Baron said...

Mike and Rich,

Truth be told, my own phone is connected to my networked office calendar. I have admittedly checked it during court on several occasions.

From my experience, it does not usually go over well with many judges. Think of it this way. The judge makes a general announcement to turn off all cell phones and then an attorney goes in front of him and uses one.

In the situation I referred to, I think the lawyer may have hit the speaker button or had his phone set on touch tones. I mentioned fat fingers because, the guy just happened to have fat fingers. In the interest of proper decorum, I will change the word fat to "sausage-like". :)

My usual practice is to print out my google calendar for reference when I am before the judge. Just one attorney's preference. I am sure the practice of checking schedules on handheld devices will become common place if it has not yet already.

long island divorce lawyer said...

It's disturbing to know that a lot of lawyers these days act like that. There should be a rule in place against this.

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