Courtroom Decorum Self-Quiz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You, the Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, are revved up and ready to prosecute a defendant in a racketeering and murder trial. It is a famous mob-related case. You put on your best clothes and prepare an emotional opening argument. At the start of the trial, you state in court, “Believe me – you, my friends of the jury, are in the presence of a cold-blooded killer, probably more dangerous than any you have seen in the movies.” Are you subject to discipline for this statement?
Choice 1 Probably, because you are stating your personal belief about the guilt of an accused in a criminal proceeding.
Choice 2 No, because you are entitled in your opening argument to flesh out the facts of the case.
Choice 3 Yes, because defendant is innocent until proven guilty in our country.
You, the Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, are revved up and ready to prosecute a defendant in a racketeering and murder trial. It is a famous mob-related case. You approach the defendant’s attorney, Skip Townshend, about the defendant’s interest in plea bargaining. You tell Skip, “Skipper, we’ve been at this game for years now. You know your guy’s guilty as sin. You believe it just as I do. Is he gonna play ball, or what?” Are you subject to discipline for stating your personal opinions?
Choice 1 Yes, because a party’s lawyer may not state personal opinions in a case.
Choice 2 No, because the opinions were stated outside the courtroom.
Choice 3 No, because federal prosecutors are exempt from the rules related to stating personal opinions.
The District Attorney in Manhattan holds a press conference for the local news stations and newspapers. During the conference he issues a statement and answers reporters’ questions related to the capture of suspected gang leader and master thief, Thug Watkins. In addition to stating the usual information regarding the government’s interest in prosecuting the defendant, and the fact that an investigation of the matter is in progress, the D.A. says that any private individual, outside of the government, connected with Mr. Watkins’s arrest is in grave danger and there is a possibility that certain of his former associates will suffer a substantial likelihood of bodily harm. You, the attorney for Mr. Watkins, assert that the D.A.’s statement is terribly prejudicial to the outcome of Mr. Watkins’ case. You contact the local ethics board and assert that Mr. Watkins is subject to discipline. Are you correct?
Choice 1 Yes, because the D.A.’s statements were prejudicial to the outcome of the case.
Choice 2 No, because the D.A. is entitled to warn the public of a perceived danger.
Choice 3 Yes, because the D.A. should only be commenting generally on the progress of the government’s case against Mr. Watkins.
You are a lawyer engaged in a bitter fee dispute with a client. You represent yourself as plaintiff, because you’re short on cash – not necessarily because you trust your legal skills. In fact, you’ve never conducted a trial before, and are rather nervous. You know the truth will come out, that the client owes you a hefty sum. But for the truth to be flushed out, you feel you have to testify before the jury. Is this acceptable, given that you are counsel for the plaintiff?
Choice 1 No, because a lawyer for a party may never testify in a case.
Choice 2 Yes, because the dispute involves one of your clients and your legal fee.
Choice 3 No, because you are a biased party.

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