Rude Court Lawyer Suspended

Rude Court Lawyer Suspended

Acting Within the Norms

It is important for legal professionals to be respectful, courteous and professional. They need to collaborate and avoid seeking a combative conflict. However, one defence barrister seemingly forgot the behavioural etiquette traditions in a recent June 2022 case.

What Happened In the Case?

Proceedings were progressing uneventfully until mid-way through one Crown Court hearing around six years ago. A defence barrister in a criminal case apparently been approached by the Crown Prosecution Service counsel and a seemingly reasonable request was made to find some common ground on a schedule document. The defence barrister in question declined to work collaboratively or engage with them.

What Did The Judge Say?

The judge felt compelled to intervene and handed down an order requiring the barrister work collaboratively. Normally this decision would be the end of the matter and the barrister would admit defeat and continue with case. However, this is not what happened here and the circumstances took a dark turn.

The defence barrister communicated to the judge her intention to defy the court order and said she intended to not adhere to its requirements. The barrister was presumably warned by the judge about the implications for such a choice. However, the defence barrister was adamant that she was not going to comply, would accept any reprisals if the judge saw it fit to take any further action over her professional conduct. She made clear that she perceived any potential judicial decision to take some form of disciplinary action would not be a problem.

Now instead of remaining quiet the defence barrister continued communicating with the judge in this manner. She invited the judge to report her to the legal profession’s regulator promptly in a timely manner.

In response to this invitation the judge made clear that he would be very prompt in reporting the incident to the regulator and confirmed that the antics displayed would not curtail court proceedings. However, instead of responding courteously or saying nothing, the barrister replied by indicating to the judge that he was seemingly acting in a hypocritical manner by curtailing and interrupting the court proceedings.

Please Sir…I Want Some More?

The above skirmish was not an isolated incident. During the submissions the barrister was questioned by the judge on a particular point. In response the barrister appeared to rebuke the judge by asking him not to make her be perceived as idiotic. There was also a point in proceedings when the defence barrister was asked by the judge to resume her seat. In response the barrister raised at the voice in an effort to communicate that she already intended to take a seat and did require any assistance from the judge. There was also another incident where the barrister decided to speak louder than the judge in an effort to talk over him. This was at a time when he was providing an overview of witness evidence. The barrister’s behaviour could be described as unprofessional as she had shouted in front of the jury ‘absolute rubbish’. During the same incident she unprofessionally interrupted the judge and questioned if he was giving evidence to the jury as a witness.

Lessons Learned?

Lawyers should be conducting themselves in a calm, professional and dignified manner at all times. They should avoid getting into situations where they are exhibiting unprofessional behaviour such as:

  • interrupting the judge
  • failing to collaborate with the opposite legal representative
  • getting into seemingly childish arguments with a judge in the case and
  • communicating the intention to ignore court orders.

If they follow this strategy it will reduce the risk of future lawyers from becoming sanctioned in this manner.

The Legists Content Team

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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES

[1] Hyde, John – Barrister who was rude to trial judge suspended – Law Society Gazette - 16 June 2022 - Barrister who was rude to trial judge suspended | News | Law Gazette

[2] Bar Standards Board – Barrister Jacqueline Vallejo suspended from practice for four months – 17 June 2022 - Barrister Jacqueline Vallejo suspended from practice for four months (barstandardsboard.org.uk)

[3] Aoraha, Claudia – Female barrister is suspended – Daily Mail – 16 June 2022 - Female barrister is suspended and fined £2,000 after saying judge was talking 'absolute rubbish' | Daily Mail Online

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