A recent instance of judicial scolding is worth savoring. Indeed, the jurist deserves a standing ovation. After hearing about it, one lawyer buddy said to me, “At last, a real judge.” Yet another said, “I wish we had a judge like that here.”
It happened last month in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Although, the partial trial transcript has been making the rounds on listservs, I’m opting instead to save the lawyers any further embarrassment by redacting the partial transcript.
And since most readers wouldn’t know the parties or their lawyers from a box of rocks, it shouldn’t matter. Redaction doesn’t change the savoriness of the body slamming judicial admonition.
* * * *
THE COURT: Mr. XXXXXX
Oh, Mr. YYYYYY.
MR. YYYYYY: Thank you, Your Honor.
THE COURT: But before you get started, are — pardon me for asking, but are you a partner or associate?
MR. YYYYYY: Partner.
THE COURT: Okay. Do you value your partner profits at John and Doe? Do you value them?
MR. YYYYYY: Well —
THE COURT: Your partnership profits.
MR. YYYYYY: Do you mean my salary? I’m not an equity partner.
THE COURT: Oh, okay. Yeah. Well, let’s talk to Mr. XXXXXX. You’re an equity partner I assume.
MR. XXXXXX: I am, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you value your partnership share?
MR. XXXXXX: I’m not sure I understand the question. Do you mean are they a value to me?
THE COURT: Yeah, does it have a value to you?
MR. XXXXXX: Certainly.
THE COURT: Okay. Well, I’ve looked at your answers to — your interrogatory answers to number 44. And if your firm ever files answers like that in a case that I have — and it still may — and this is a case I have — I guarantee you your partnership earnings are going to go down per partner.
MR. XXXXXX: Well, I —
THE COURT: And let me tell you, I mean, I’m beyond offended by it, and I’ll tell you why. Your general objections are obstructionist, frivolous, lack any basis in law or fact, and are — actually have been barred by every circuit that has ever ruled on the question, including the Ninth Circuit. So if I ever see general objections, you object because it’s attorney-client privilege, you object because it’s overbroad and vague and ambiguous, unduly burdensome and oppress — you know, you have every boilerplate objection in these answers to interrogatories. And there’s absolutely nothing objectionable about the interrogatories asked in this document. And every circuit has held that if you make an objection based on the fact that they’re vague or overbroad, you have a duty to specifically point out why they’re vague or overbroad, and you don’t do that.
And so I don’t know if it’s a cultural practice in this district that allows you to do that, but I know it’s contrary to Ninth Circuit law and every other circuit law. And I guarantee you — you have my personal guarantee — if I ever see anything like this in a case because your firm has had cases before me, there will be eye-popping sanctions that reduce your partnership income. You have my personal guarantee. So let me ask you this. Is there anything about my comments you don’t understand?
MR. XXXXXX: No, sir.
THE COURT: Okay. I’m actually sh — you know, to your credit, you didn’t sign these.
MR. XXXXXX: Correct.
THE COURT: Because I have a hard time believing that you would do this. But you ought to give your firm a heads-up. And don’t take my word for it. Take an independent look at Ninth Circuit law.
MR. XXXXXX: We’ll do that, Your Honor.
THE COURT: And I actually have a published opinion sanctioning a lawyer who did exactly what you did over a decade ago. I did not award monetary sanctions. It was an east coast lawyer, but I did require him to write an ethics article and send it off to a variety of different publications on why that’s unethical to do exactly what your firm did. And it was probably more than a decade ago but right around that. So just kind of a heads-up.
MR. XXXXXX: I appreciate it. We’ll find the opinion and discuss it. Thank you.
THE COURT: Okay. Great. That’s all I’m asking. Thank you.
MR. YYYYYY: All right. Thank you, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Mr. YYYYYY?
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR. YYYYYY:
Q. Miss —- — oh, sorry.
THE COURT: How’d you like that for a warm-up?
* * * *
Wrestling Photo Credit: John O’Neill http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en