Last June, I used this question at a training I did for the Defender General:
- On May 23, a Nevada judge presiding over a contested sentencing hearing made the news by:
- A. Ordering the defense attorney handcuffed to the jury box.
- B. Holding a defense attorney in contempt for tweeting updates during the hearing.
- C. Vacating the conviction & confessing to the crime.
- D. Sending a Facebook ‘friend request” to the defendant during the hearing.
As you think about your answer, I’ll take a moment to explain Was That Wrong? to new readers.
Was That Wrong is a column in which I attempt to use satire to write about conduct that, hopefully, lawyers don’t need a CLE or confidential inquiry of bar counsel to know to avoid. An episode of Seinfeld served as the column’s inspiration. The entries so far:
- Conspiring with police to have your paralegal set up opposing counsel for a DUI mid-trial
- Bringing a gun to your disbarment hearing
- Sexting a Client
- Defrauding Investors, with Client Funds as Collateral
- Outrageous Falsehoods on a Resume
Ok. Ready for the answer? As first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a Nevada judge presiding over a contested sentencing hearing made the news by ordering the defense attorney handcuffed to the jury box . The transcript of the incident is here.
Now for the fallout: per the ABA Journal, last week, the judge was publicly censured and banned from the bench. Here’s how I imagine it on Seinfeld:
- Judicial Commission: We’re going to get right to the point. It has come to our attention that you ordered a defense attorney handcuffed to the jury box during her client’s sentencing hearing. Is that correct?
- Judge: Who said that?
- Judicial Commission: She did.
- Judge: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve held defendants in contempt and, well, this lawyer kept interrupting me.
- Judicial Commission: You’re censured. And you can never be a judge again.
- Judge: Well I’d already lost my re-election so you didn’t have to say it like that.
As always, be careful out there folks.