Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Why Throwing Coffee at a Deposition is a Bad Idea

tossing coffeeIt’s okay to bring a cup of coffee to a deposition – just don’t fling it at opposing counsel if things start going badly.

It happened at a deposition in Boston, as you can read here.

At one point in the proceedings, things grew heated. Before you could say “Mocha Madness” an iced coffee was – depending on whose account you believe – either thrown, hurled, slammed on the table, or accidentally spilled. Defense counsel wound up with stained luggage and soaked clothes. A motion for sanctions followed.

All of which earned the Great Cappuccino Counsel Caper the coveted top spot on the following list, compliments of and The Wall Street Journal.

5 Things You Should Never, Ever Do

  1. Don’t bill for 800 cab rides you never took – and then blame it on your kids. A Chicago lawyer was suspended from practice for a year after billing $70,000 in phony expenses. Included were faked receipts for hundreds of trips in an imaginary taxi. When busted, he told the press his conduct stemmed from a “pressure-filled work schedule” and a desire to “achieve work-life balance after I had missed my children’s lives.”
  2. Don’t create a fake law firm and steal $9 million from your “client.” The head of legal affairs at a Houston corporation responsible for hiring outside counsel set up a phony law firm and funneled millions of dollars of legal work to it. The invoices listed his home as mailing address, and the checks were deposited to his personal bank account.
  3. Don’t whip out a can of pepper spray and threaten opposing counsel. That’s what a California lawyer did when he showed up for a deposition. Brandishing the can, he warned his adversary: “I will spray you if you get out of hand.” He also brought a stun gun because, well, if you’re going to a deposition in California and can’t get your hands on an iced latte, a stun gun is the next best thing. “Here the practice of law became more than stressful,” said a court reviewing the incident. “It was dangerous.” Counsel is facing disbarment proceedings.
  4. Don’t tweet photos of evidence in a federal trial while the case is in progress. A Chicago lawyer posted pictures on Twitter from inside a federal courthouse, including shots of trial evidence, in violation of the court’s no-photo policy. A disciplinary panel ordered him to make a $5,000 donation to the Chicago Bar Foundation, perform 50 hours of pro bono work and attend a CLE on ethics and social media.
  5. Don’t take long smoke breaks and habitually show up late for court if you’re the presiding judge. Those and other indiscretions landed a Florida judge in front of the state Supreme Court on misconduct charges. He was given a reprimand and agreed to write a public apology letter.



About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

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