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What Has Happened to Decorum

What Has Happened to Decorum? Depositions While Driving and Drinking on the Job

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we do a lot of things and one, apparently, is how a person behaves in the courtroom. We aren’t just referring to the fact that many proceedings now take place over Zoom (though that plays a part). Instead, we refer to some eyebrow-raising breaches of decorum that would be hard to imagine at any other time.   

1. The Infamous Lawyer Cat

In case you tuned out the entire the last month and missed it, in early February a video went viral of Rod Ponton, a Texas attorney, who inadvertently arrived to a hearing disguised as a cat. Unable to remove the offending filter, Ponton explained to the judge (and the entire internet), “I don’t know how to remove it. I’ve got my assistant here, she’s trying to, but I’m prepared to go forward with it … I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”

2. Drinking on the Job

In another moment of comic relief from an otherwise trying year, attorney Kirsten Daniel reported that a colleague who rents space from her firm unthinkingly brought a glass of wine to a Zoom hearing about a parent’s drinking problem. According to Daniel, the colleague has since switched to drinking wine from a coffee cup.

3. Depositions While Driving

A similarly ironic but more shocking, and also dangerous, example of breach of decorum comes from attorney Tish Morris, who had a client that had been in a car wreck decide to appear at her Zoom deposition while driving. If that’s not a sure way to bring about a quick decision, nothing is.

4. A Shining Testimony

At a federal court in San Francisco, an employment lawyer arrived crowned by radiant Kansas sunset. His goal wasn’t to make a visual show of illuminating the facts; instead, it was that he had been at a happy hour earlier and did not know how to turn the background off.  When he apologized, U.S District Judge Vince Chhabria replied, “Kansas sunsets are perfectly welcome here.”

5. Unmutigated Chaos

Failure to click the mute button is likely the most frequent cause of breaches of decorum. Jefferson Circuit Judge Charles Cunningham reported on the lawyer who during motion hour fell asleep while unmuted and then snored through the entire proceeding. During a district court hearing attorney Karen Faulkner says someone shouted, “this is f—ing stupid.” Meanwhile, District Judge Jennifer Leibson reported getting into a “mute war” with a defendant who would not be quiet.

As funny as these anecdotes may be, we are sure those involved wish they had not happened. At the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm, we promise not only to show up for your estate planning and elder law needs, but to do so with the professionalism that speaks to the pride we take in our work. After all, as much as we appreciate comic relief, we appreciate ensuring our clients are well-served even more.

For more on our services or our promise of professionalism, do not hesitate to call our office at 417-623-2062 or reach out to us via the contact form on our website.


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