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Lawyer’s jabs draw objection

Being a litigator is a stressful job. Usually personal injury lawyers deal with the stress and keep their behavior in line. However, the Athens Banner-Herald reported that a Clarke County Superior Court judge has rebuked a local attorney for ridiculing another attorney about his star-shaped lapel pin, a pin the U.S. Army gave in recognition of his son’s service and death in Iraq.

Clarke County Superior Court Judge David Sweat held that Georgia lawyer Jim Smith tried to use personal tragedy to provoke fellow attorney Andrew Marshall, whose son Evan died in January when a roadside bomb exploded while the Army corporal was in Iraq.

Smith allegedly made a comment that Marshall thought his son’s death gave him the right to intimidate Smith’s client, who also is a veteran. Smith refused to discuss Sweat’s criticisms on the record.

Judge Sweet awarded Marshall attorney’s fees and called Smith’s comments “totally uncalled for” and “so ignoble as to bring the legal profession in disrepute.”
The Judge also reportedly sent copies to all Superior Court judges in the Western Circuit, as well as the State Bar of Georgia.

During a second deposition, Marshall asked a witness questions Smith thought were irrelevant, and after the witness refused to answer, Marshall announced he was ending the deposition and planned to ask the court to order the witness to pay attorney’s fees. Smith told Marshall to “jump in a lake” and then asked, “Where’s your pin today?” according to the transcript.

Marshall began to say, “I’ll be serving you with…,” but Smith interrupted and asked again, “Where’s your pin today?” Marshall ordered Smith to leave his office, and accused Smith of dishonoring his late son.

This is a shame and is definitely in the very small minority of lawyers. It is acceptable to be aggressive and zealous in your representation of your client. It is not acceptable to attack your opposing counsel by mentioning the death of a child. Based on reading the above, I’m glad the Judge took the action that he did.

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