A good attorney does not back down. He is a zealous fighter. He fights for his clients inside and outside of court. Sometimes this zealousness leads to hurt feelings. In at least one instance, it led to a defense attorney getting punched by a judge. In the following video, a public defender accepts a judges invitation to step outside. Mayhem follows as an altercation can be heard coming from the hallway.
There is a lesson to take from this video. Too many defense attorney and public defenders are cowed by the judge. Young private attorneys may be intimated by the judge’s stature. Less aggressive private attorneys may naturally defer to authority figures. This may lead to inferior representation.
The lawyer’s primary role is that of advocate. A lawyer who is afraid to stand up to a judge cannot do their job . This does not mean a lawyer should be disrespectful. A lawyer should mix assertiveness with aggressiveness. The lawyer should cultivate the judge as an ally. But sometimes this is not possible. At those times it’s important to remember a simple fact of representation:
A lawyer should never forget that their primary responsibility is to the client, not the court.