Lawyers do a lot of swearing. And while that can involve swearing someone in. I’d wager that most of the swearing done looks more like a George Carlin bit than a somber occasion. And for good reason. Not only is swearing a convenient way to destress and a likely indicator of intelligence, it is fun as hell to do! That said, there is a time and a place. And while the time may very well be in the middle of court, the place is decidedly not into a microphone you didn’t know was on. ABA Journal has the details:
An Illinois lawyer should receive a stayed suspension after she described a judge’s adverse ruling as “f- – -ing bulls- – -” while on a hot mic.
Motta, who was a member of Motta & Motta in Aurora, Illinois, was accused of repeatedly muttering under her breath and visibly reacting after a federal judge overruled her objections during a January 2017 criminal trial in Chicago. The judge heard Motta’s “f- – -ing bulls- – -” comment when it was picked up on the courtroom audio.
Motta made the comment, even though the judge had warned Motta to stop the unprofessional conduct on several occasions.
Motta also took photos during the prosecutor’s closing argument, despite a sign banning photos.
Motta told the hearing board she didn’t think her F-word comment would be picked up by the microphone. She intended only her co-counsel and intern to hear it.
As far as things lawyers get disciplined for, this is kind of refreshing. It reads like a sitcom come to life. Who hasn’t had one of those days at work when you pan to the camera, say your little line and then realize that your intended audience of none was an audience of at least a few. Speaking of which, this may have at least a bit of a silver lining for counsel. Not all of the publicity is negative — not only has she seemed to learn the errors of her ways, she has a life to boot!
Motta understands that her conduct was wrong and accepts responsibility for her actions, the hearing board said. She has no prior misconduct. Character witnesses testified to her good reputation.
Motta had testified that her passion is criminal law, and she is driven to take cases involving injustice, the underprivileged and minorities. She often discounts her fees or takes nominal payments if she sees injustice or thinks that people have been targeted because of their race. She also represents people losing their homes on a pro bono basis.
She also works with a charitable organization that she founded called the Jacktivists.
“She explained that her passion outside of law is live music and especially the band My Morning Jacket, which has a tightknit fan base with more affluent people,” the hearing board said. “She helped found the Jacktivists to use the fans’ collective resources to raise money for charities; carry out projects, such as a school supply drive; and promote petition drives for causes, such as voting, gun safety and the environment.”
You can check out the Jacktivists here. While you’re at it, check your mic. Avoid all of the f— bull—- you can.
Lawyer On Hot Mic Who Used Obscenities To Describe Decision Faces Possible Discipline [ABA Journal]
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by tweet at @WritesForRent.
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