You Will Only Be Fined $3,000 if You Literally Shock a Witness

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Let’s say you have a flair for the dramatic. Well, of course you do, because you are a lawyer. That’s all well and good. Courtroom technique books and blogs are riddled with suggestions about how to be innovative in your efforts to sell your client’s story to a judge and jury. We are pretty sure, however, that none of them suggested that you actually lie to a witness and basically try to electrocute them while they are on the stand.

Here’s what happened. The lawyer, one Mr. Howarth admitted pro hac vice in Utah for this case (man, imagine being the lawyer that stood up for this guy and got him into that jurisdiction) called an expert witness and gave him a pen with some complicated explanation about closing the circuit on an AAA battery. He made the poor sod click the pen, which actually housed “a 1.5 volt battery and a transformer that converts the battery’s DC current to AC current and transforms the 1.5 volts supplied by the battery up to several hundred volts.”

Oh, this sounds like such a bad, bad idea.

After he intentionally shocked the witness who, unsurprisingly, dropped the pen, he then tried to stop the witness from explaining how the pen worked. Oh, and the witness was 60 years old and there had been no inquiry as to whether he had a pacemaker because, if so, the shock could have actually murdered him. The attorney was told he could not cross-examine any future witnesses during that particular trial and that he had to pony up $3K.

Seems like a small price to pay for the sheer audacity of going all Stanley Milgram and literally shocking the witness.

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  • Stan Milgram

    Worth it.