If you are a courtroom litigator, you know that attorneys spend a lot of time sitting in a courtroom gallery performing skills that attorneys are not skilled at: waiting, not talking, and not being seen. We wait for the judge to finish his golf game and get to court. We wait for our cases to be called when the court uses the cattle-call method of scheduling. We wait for the pro se (or pro per if you are in a wacky jurisdiction) petitioners to finish telling their stories about estranged spouses who are a danger to the beloved beagle and heinous neighbors who mow over green beans. It may sound entertaining, and it can be . . . for about five minutes. Then you start thinking about everything else that you could be doing instead of watching the live version of Judge Joe Brown. You cannot avoid the waiting, though. Instead of lamenting the unfortunate fact, try some of these ways to pass the time while you wait.
It may be as close to exhibitionism as I’ll ever come. There’s something terribly thrilling about sitting in the back of a courtroom and flipping through the pages of 50 Shades of Grey. When it comes to choosing your reading material without fear of embarrassment or disdain, e-readers are the best thing since sliced bread. And they make them so thin now, you could probably actually slice bread with them, if the need arose. Becoming absorbed in a novel is like transporting yourself into that story. You take a little vacation from your own reality, without really leaving it. What could be better than having an instant escape from the sober, sedate courtroom, directly into Aphrodite’s Passion? For added excitement, sit right next to the armed sheriff’s deputy while you read. Just trust me.
Want to feel like you’re 11 years old again? Did you ever pass a note to your friend in class, using all forms of stealth to hide your actions from the teacher? Texting in court will give you a similar thrill, when you know that the judge will scold and embarrass you in front of everyone if you are discovered. It doesn’t even matter what you are communicating because the fun is in the act itself. I must add that this blog and its contributors assume no responsibility for the consequences of your actions. That being said, GO FOR IT!
This one is self explanatory. It applies for you men out there, as well.
Don’t be too proud. Everyone loves sleeping. After you’ve recovered from the shame of waking up with your jaw hanging open the first time, it really gets easier from there. It’s really the most responsible thing you can do, if you think about it. You didn’t think you’d be waiting, so you didn’t bring any work with you. You could waste your time zoning out, alternating your gaze between the predictably stodgy cast of characters who hang around in courtrooms, or you could take a power nap. You need energy in order to do a good job from your clients. You get energy from food and sleep. You aren’t allowed to bring food into the courtroom, but there are generally no rules against sleeping, so long as you don’t snore or fart in your sleep. In a way, it’s your ethical obligation to get some sleep when you can. There may even be something about it in the standard rules of professional conduct. I’m not entirely sure about that one. I had trouble staying awake in that class.
Sure, if the bailiff hears even the slightest sound he or she will give you the glare that must be endlessly perfected at bailiff school. It seems to say “I could kill you and I kinda want to, but I don’t have to because the judge is going to before I can.” But, that’s the exciting part isn’t it? While some poor sap tries to convince the judge not to throw their client in jail for violating their parole for the 3,209,483th time, you can gossip with your friends about the weekend. Or you can talk about how said poor sap’s client is obviously really high on drugs on right now. The possibilities are endless. Give it a try!
This one is not for the faint of heart, but it’s certainly for the average attorney. You can take a shot every time a newbie says something that’s actually totally wrong. Take a shot every time the pro se client has to be cut off by the judge. Take a shot every time you see a client that looks way too high (NSFW). Take a shot every time a defense attorney wins . . . anything—actually, take a shot every time they lose (the point is to get drunk, right?). Make up your own game rules and post them here! We can’t wait to hear how it turns out for you! I know a great malpractice attorney.
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