January 31, 2008, - 3:51 pm

Bad Idea: Reading “Maxim” in Open Court

By Debbie Schlussel
As a practicing attorney and avid newspaper reader, I’m well aware that many courts in my area prohibit even bringing a newspaper into open court. And it’s kind of stupid to read a newspaper in front of a judge anyway. It’s disrespectful and will turn them against you when it’s your turn in front of the bench.
But, it’s really clueless to bring a racy magazine like Maxim into court and start reading it. It’s a “Hello . . .?” moment, especially when the woman on the cover is topless. Apparently not so for Todd Paris, a Salisbury, North Carolina lawyer. Some might say the judge over-reacted in this case. But as my former University of Wisconsin law prof Stewart McCaulley used to say, “You pays your money, you takes your chances.” The lawyer should have known better. You don’t bring that magazine to church . . . or to court.:

maximheidimontag.jpg

This is the Magazine Cover the Judge Objected To

SALISBURY, N.C. — Court documents show the attorney was reading a Maxim magazine that featured a topless model on the cover. The attorney was held in contempt of court for interrupting court by holding the magazine “in a manner unavoidably clear to the presiding judge.”
The February issue of Maxim magazine was apparently captivating enough to cause an attorney to disrupt an open court session. . . .
Court documents show attorney Todd Paris told the judge [DS: Judge Kevin Eddinger] he did not think the magazine was pornographic and was sorry for his actions. The magazine is available on regular magazine shelves, and many people we spoke to do not find it pornographic.
The judge . . . stated the attorney’s actions were “grossly inappropriate, patently offensive, and violative of the general rules of practice.”
Mr. Paris himself declined to comment Friday, but in a written statement told us he is conferring with the local state bar counselor.
When we went to his office it was no surprise what we found in his window — another issue of Maxim.
Paris was fined $300 and sentenced to 15 days in jail. That jail sentence was suspended in lieu of one year of probation.

Remember, if the cover of the mag looks like the cover of Playboy, probably not a good idea to be reading it in court in view of the judge.

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4 Responses

“And it’s kind of stupid to read a newspaper in front of a judge anyway.”
I don’t see a problem with anyone reading the New York Law Journal in court. It depends on the appropriateness.

barrypopik on January 31, 2008 at 6:00 pm

First of all, a lawyer is supposed to be listening in court, not reading.
I once won a case in the 1980′s because the opposing lawyer showed up in a sweater and the judge decided that she was dressed ‘inappropriately’.
Gone are the days of respect for anything. When the President began his state of the union speech the other night the guy on ABC was still talking when the Pres. began speaking.
I know you don’t like Bush or what he said, but respect for the office is just that.
I am old enough to miss that kind of civility.
[AB: GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE. WHEN I WROTE THIS POST, I WAS GOING TO MENTION HOW I SEE MANY PEOPLE IN JEANS AND T-SHIRTS IN COURT, AND HOW I KNOW AT LEAST ONE JUDGE WHO WILL DEFAULT YOUR CASE, IF YOU SHOW UP DRESSED LIKE THAT. AMEN. DS]

Aunt Bea on January 31, 2008 at 6:57 pm

“many people we spoke to do not find it pornographic” and pedophiles don’t find anything wrong with assaulting children either.
We are becoming a nation without values, morals or responsibility. Thanks folks.

TheOmegaMan on February 1, 2008 at 5:35 am

One thing most won’t be privvy to in the altercation/interaction/ between judge and attorney in this instance is that the judge was busy having an affair with his court clerk (both participants being married to other people) and it was creating havoc in the courthouse. Could it have been that this attorney was “baiting” / “goading this particular judge in the only way he could fathom?? By holding up the photo of an alluring, naked woman to let the judge know that everyone knew what was REALLY happening in chambers??

Sad, but probably true.

Bea Legal on May 5, 2010 at 7:44 am

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