January 31, 2008, - 3:51 pm
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.:
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.
Tags: attorney, judge, Kevin Eddinger, law prof, lawyer, local state bar counselor, Maxim, North Carolina, practicing attorney, presiding judge, Reading, Salisbury, Stewart McCaulley, Todd Paris, University of Wisconsin, USD, Wisconsin