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Lawyers, Criticizing a Judge Is No Joke

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 19, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The witness seemed to ignore a question so the attorney asked again loudly: "Isn't it true you were paid $5,000 to throw this case?"

"Oh, I'm sorry," the witness said. "I thought you were talking to the judge."

It's a joke, but there's a lesson here. No matter what you think, don't criticize a judge -- at least not in court.

"La La Land"

Attorney Gino Giorgini learned that lesson the hard way. A New York appeals court has suspended him for three months for making "derogatory, undignified and inexcusable" comments about the judiciary.

"Respondent has evinced a flagrant disrespect for the judiciary and a fundamental disregard for the judicial process which he has been sworn to uphold," the panel said.

Apparently, Giorgini added insult to insult by berating judges in two cases. He accused one judge and an appeals court of political bias and corruption.

"This is La La Land on steroids," he wrote in one brief. "What a joke," he said in another and accused the judge of not reading his papers.

Not a Joke

Apparently, the judge did read Giorgini's papers because they ended up in the disciplinary proceeding. In any case, they are an example of what attorneys cannot say in court.

Lawyers can challenge a judge, but sometimes do so at their peril. Attorney Christine M. Mire tried it in a family law case in Louisiana.

She filed a motion to recuse Judge Phyllis Keaty and accused the judge of altering a court recording. The state Supreme Court suspended the attorney, but it was a close call.

Two dissenters said she had a right and a duty to call out the judge. Keaty was ultimately removed from the case.

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