Yesterday I was in a local municipal court here in the King County area. I was there representing a client on a Bellevue DUI charge. The calendar was a jury call calendar/readiness hearing. Meaning it was the court date prior to a jury trial. At this hearing both the Prosecutor and Defense Attorney get in front of the Judge and announce whether the case is going forward to trial, or whether there has been a plea deal reached, or whether either party will be asking to move the trial to another date.
Now this particular court is really unique on how they handle this jury call calendar. In most jurisdictions there really isn't an order to how cases are called. You just get up there, announce to the Judge what you're going to do and you're on your way. But in this court the Judge makes any case that is either a plea or continuance request go first. So if you're there to announce that ready for trial you have to wait until the end of the calendar. And depending on how many cases there are you could be waiting for 2.5 - 3 hours.
This is just one of the downsides to being in this court. But there is nothing really you can do. So I always advise my clients that were going to be there for awhile, so just plan on being there all morning. And I would think any decent attorney with common sense would tell their client the same thing. Otherwise a client will show up there thinking its going to be a brief hearing, and next thing they know they are there for 3 years.
Well yesterday I was announcing ready for a trial. So my client and myself were just sitting there until about 11:00 am. We got to court at 8:45. And things are going like they normally do. All the cases that are being continued, or resolved are being taken first. The rest of the trial cases are waiting until the end of the calendar. So I was just half paying attention to what was going on with the other cases, and half reading the Internet on my IPhone.
But then a defense attorney decided to take her case out of order and got in front of the Judge. I didn't catch exactly what she was saying, but the gist of it was she didn't want to wait anymore and she wanted her case taken out of order. And to be honest with you I didn't think there was anything wrong with that request. Sometimes you have other hearings to get to, and it is pointless to wait 3 hours for a 15 second hearing. But what was offensive about her request was her tone of voice. She really seemed to be upset when the Judge said no. She kept trying to talk over him. And when she didn't get her way, she slammed down her brief case on the defense attorney desk making a loud sound. Afterwards the Judge made her come back in front of him, and he pretty much scolded her behavior.
I don't know this defense attorney, but I was pretty embarrassed for her. We as attorneys often have a bad rap when it comes to the general public. I think being an attorney is a privilege and an honorable profession, and we should hold ourselves to a certain decorum. Especially when it comes to speaking with Judges and court staff. I personally find it very offensive when I see attorneys talk disrespectfully to Judges or court staff. And it doesn't take much to be polite and courteous.
I mean don't get me wrong there are Judges out there that I absolutely despise. But I always treat them with respect regardless of how I personally feel. Obviously this attorney does not hold herself to a higher level of professionalism, and her actions were pretty shameful. And I bet her client was not too impressed with having her attorney get scolded like a 5 year old in front of the entire court.
Matthew A. Leyba is a Seattle DUI Lawyer. His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses. If you have been arrested for a Seattle DUI contact our offices immediately to set up a consultation to discuss your rights, and options following an arrest.