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Lawyering Under the Influence

Among the legal blogs to have commented on the disturbing Las Vegas courtroom video of a lawyer under the influence are Crime & Federalism, The Legal Reader and Overlawyered. The lawyer, a Nevada criminal defense lawyer and former New York assistant district attorney, had several shots of tequila before showing up late to defend a client who faced life in prison for charges of rape and kidnapping. Peter Morin at Overlawyered calls the video "painful -- a classic Schadenfreud." Mike Cernovich at Crime & Federalism expresses hope that the bar puts the lawyer's "law license on the rocks."

While the lawyer's behavior is, indeed, painful, I am surprised that others have not commented on the judge's behavior, which, to my mind, is almost heroic. Watching this video, District Judge Michelle Leavitt comes through as a model of judicial demeanor. From the lawyer's first appearance in the courtroom, she sensed something was out of sorts. For some two hours, she patiently questioned the lawyer, the prosecutors, the defendant and others in the courtroom, even as the lawyer continued to entangle himself in an ever-tightening web of fabrications and inconsistencies. Clearly, Judge Leavitt's purpose was to protect the rights of the defendant and the integrity of the judicial process. In doing so, she showed a degree of patience and presence of mind that should be the mark of a judge.

Let us hope this lawyer gets help. And let us hope Judge Leavitt continues on the bench for years to come.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 10, 2006 at 02:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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