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Trial Advocacy 101: Don 't Threaten to Release Intimate Photos of the Judge

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 23, 2019

As a general rule, it's a really bad practice to threaten a judge. Of course, that doesn't stop some lawyers.

In Florida, for example, a judge alleges that an attorney threatened to release intimate photos of her unless she acquiesced to demands in a custody case. To make things worse, it was the judge's own custody case.

Judge Marni Bryson describes the incident in a complaint that sounds like a bad crime novel. She changed some names to protect the innocent, but calls out the alleged villain and his law firm by their real names.

'Intent to Extort'

In Bryson v. Scherer, the judge sued William R. Scherer, Jr. for "actions with an intent to extort." She also alleges fraud on the court, bribery, and suborning perjury. The judge wants damages and an injunction to stop Scherer and his law firm from distributing intimate photos of her.

Scherer and his firm Conrad & Scherer, in their own suit against the judge, said she demanded $10 million from them before filing her complaint. They say its "bizarre allegations bespeak extortion." Wow. Crossing complaints between a judge and a lawyer alleging extortion. This should be good, if it weren't so bad. We're talking about the whole drama made-for-reality-television kind of bad.

One fine day in 2014, Bryson was sitting on the bench when she got an urgent message that a lawyer was waiting to talk to her in chambers. In her complaint she calls him "PB Attorney" -- a representative of Scherer.

"The PB Attorney warned Bryson, a mother, a sitting judge in her chambers, to play ball or else," the complaint reads. "Shock and surprise fell upon Bryson. She was dumbfounded."

Yeah, that bad.

The Judge, the PB Attorney and the FLA Attorney

The plot thickens. The judge's ex-husband's girlfriend is "FLA Attorney" in the lawsuit. That's because the girlfriend was a potential witness in the custody case, and the judge spared her from testifying as part of the "extortion" deal. The judge doesn't spare the named defendants, however, saying courts in another case were "concerned about Bill Scherer and his law firm "having apparently paid bribes to witnesses."

In a tit-for-tat lawsuit, Scherer says the judge's lawyers are "attempting to use their law licenses as weapons to engage in illegal and extortionate threats to destroy the reputation of a lawyer and a law firm that have been established in the South Florida legal community for over 45 years."

Yes, it is a dark and stormy night in Florida. But if you want to see the judge's intimate photos, check with the National Inquirer.

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