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Thread by @Popehat: "So @jbarro reminded me I haven't told a judge-yelling-at-me story very recently. And so I shall. I don't think I've told this one before. It […]"

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So @jbarro reminded me I haven't told a judge-yelling-at-me story very recently. And so I shall. I don't think I've told this one before.

It was the late 1990s. I had hair, and still cared if judges yelled at me.

/1
/2 As a relatively junior federal prosecutor, I had a routine immigration case against a relatively junior federal public defender. We were before a formidable judge who shall remain nameless.
/3 Judge Nameless is not exactly liberal or conservative, but during trial, can be very tough on defense lawyers in front of the jury. That's not necessarily a good thing for a prosecutor. Jurors can develop a sense that it's not a fair fight and become sympathetic.
/4 [It is, of course, manifestly NOT a fair fight, but I was like 12 and didn't grasp this fully yet.]
/5 Anyway, in the course of this somewhat idiot-proof trial Judge Nameless was yelling at the DFPD quite a bit, and she was somewhat flustered, and I saw that the jurors were looking dewy-eyed and sympathetic towards her and the youthful defendant.
/6 They could nullify this and NG the case just because the judge is being a cad, I thought. I had heard this happened sometimes.

I concluded there was only one sensible course of action.

I had to get Judge Nameless to yell at me as much, or preferably more, than at the DFPD.
/7 This turned out to be somewhat easier than I anticipated.

In fact, in all humility, I think it would be fair to say I had rather a knack for it.
/8 What did I do? I interrupted my own witnesses. I talked from a seated position. (A no-no in federal court.) I called Judge Nameless "judge" rather than "Your Honor." (ditto). I stepped into the well - the space in front of the bench and between the lawyer's tables.
/9 Judge Nameless was soon magenta with rage. I could still muster a young-kicked-puppy look and the jury was soon looking sympathetically at ME.

The DFPD came over to me during a break. "I know what you're doing," she hissed.

And SHE started to step it up more.
/10 It was at this point that things arguably went somewhat off the rails.
/11 Soon we were in chambers, Judge Nameless yelling at both of us as loud as his pulmonary status would permit, threatening to call our bosses, telling us how utterly unprofessional we were.
/12 The defendant was convicted. I won't say I convicted him; it was mostly an idiot-proof case. I simply managed to make the sympathy factor a wash. The DFPD didn't speak to me for years.

Judges yell. Attorneys get yelled at. Use it for your client if you can. /fin
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