Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Well.

A well exists in courtrooms. It's not for drinking though. It's the space between the judge's bench and the counsel table. Lawyers are not to traverse the well whenever the judge is on the bench (and some courts forbid it when the judge is off the bench too). Judges get very cranky when their personal space--the well--is invaded, and have no reticence upbraiding violators.

Last Friday, I was in court and saw a hapless attorney go into the well during oral argument on a motion. The attorney was probably 60 years plus and presumably had been practicing for many years. He wanted to hand the court a document showing that he had filed his motion within the 6 month deadline. He failed to hand it to the clerk who then would hand it to the judge. Intead, he walked right into the well and attempted to hand it directly to the judge. The judge expressed his displeasure, and then ruled against the offending attorney. Coincidence probably.

This instance is only the second violation of the "well rule" I have observed. The first was a classic however. It occured during a trial several years ago. My opposing counsel not only went into the well, but he leaned over the counsel table to look at a document at my desk and pointed his posterior at the court. The court demanded an apology. Unfortunately, the attorney thought the offended one was me and apologized only to me. The court fumed. And then my opponent lost the case. Coincidence probably.