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Attorney Convinces Judge to Pause Jury Trial to Attend Bris

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on December 06, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Is Bennett Epstein of New York a particularly persuasive advocate, or is District Court Judge Kimba Wood simply a particularly reasonable jurist? You see, Mr. Epstein requested, and was granted, a day off by Judge Wood. During a jury trial. In addition, Bennett Epstein, Esq. only wanted the day off if his grandchild was born a boy.

Bennett Epstein was in the process of defending his client before a jury for mortgage fraud, according to the New York Daily News. To make matters even more delicate, the birth of his third grandchild was expected on December 3, during the proceedings. Mr. Epstein, with foresight, asked Judge Wood for a day off from trial to attend the bris, should the child be born a boy.

However, not scoring points with the judge (or female rabbis, or female Jewish lawyers, for that matter) Mr. Epstein noted that no such celebration would be occurring if the child was born a girl. "Should the child be a girl, not much will happen in the way of public celebration. Some may even be disappointed, but will do their best to conceal this by saying, 'as long as it's a healthy baby.'"

Mr. Epstien's application in limine to Judge Wood, posted by The Wall Street Journal, bears reading in full. In fine legal tradition, it is fully footnoted and requests a recess for attending the bris "hereafter" referred to as a "writ of possible simcha." Simcha is the Hebrew word for joy, or a celebration of a joyous occasion.

Judge Wood not only granted the writ of simcha, but used her discretion to "balance the scales" between the sexes, if only for a moment. According to the Judge's note on Mr. Epstein's letter, "If a daughter is born, there will be a public celebration in Court, with readings from poetry celebrating girls and women."

For those who would worry about the effect on a jury seeing counsel for the defense reading poetry in open court, fear not. The happy announcement was made Monday, November 29, that a grandson was born to the Epstein clan. Mazel tov.

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