Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Crawford v. J.P. Chase Morgan (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 9, 2015)

Justice Gilbert begins today's opinion by saying:

"The practice of law can be abundantly rewarding, but also stressful. The absence of civility displayed by some practitioners heightens stress and debases the legal profession. Those attorneys who allow their personal animosity for an opposing counsel or an opposing party to infect a case damage their reputations and blemish the dignity of the profession they have taken an oath to uphold."

I couldn't agree more.  Hear, hear.

The next paragraph of Justice Gilbert's opinion reads:

"In Green v. GTE California, Inc. (1994) 29 Cal.App.4th 407, 408, we said counsel's comments and actions at a deposition made the term "civil procedure" an oxymoron. In comparison to what occurred in this case, one could almost say the offending counsel in Green conducted himself with decorum."

Wow.  Really?!  This should be interesting.

Next paragraph:

"Here the practice of law became more than stressful; it was dangerous. An attorney representing himself threatened defendants' counsel with pepper spray and a stun gun at a deposition. When defendants moved for terminating sanctions, plaintiff filed an opposition that was openly contemptuous of the trial court. Such conduct can have consequences. (See In re Koven (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 262.) The trial court granted defendants' motion for terminating sanctions. Plaintiff appeals the ensuing judgment. We affirm."

Dude!!!  You're kidding me, right?!  Threatening opposing counsel at a deposition with pepper spray and a stun gun?!  No way.

Yes.  Way.

The relevant conduct at the deposition included the following.  And I'm not even going to talk about all the crazy stuff that went on in this litigation beforehand:

"[The witness] and Crawford appeared [for a deposition] on April 21. Immediately after [the witness] was sworn, Crawford pointed a can of pepper spray at counsel's face from a distance of approximately three feet. Crawford said, "Mr. Traver [Chase's counsel], if things get out of hand, I brought what is legally pepper spray, and I will pepper spray you if you get out of hand." Crawford then produced a stun gun, pointed it at Traver's head, and said, "If that doesn't quell you, this is a flashlight that turns into a stun gun." Crawford discharged the stun gun close to Traver's face. Traver terminated the deposition."

Wow.  I don't know any other way to say it.  Wow.

How Mr. Crawford thought that'd be okay is beyond me.  Way beyond.

Oh.  One more thing.  Mr. Crawford is an attorney.  A graduate of California Western School of Law (down here in San Diego).  Albeit, as of earlier this year, no longer eligible to practice law pursuant to disciplinary charges brought against him.


This is just not the way you practice law.  Or even practice life.

So learn from Douglas Crawford's mistakes.  Someone who, I learned just a second ago, lives less than a mile from me.

To reiterate:  Yikes.

Leave those stun guns and pepper spray at home.