For the most part, rude or obnoxious behavior between attorneys does not result in an ethics violation. But sometimes, lawyers can just go too far. An excerpt from the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Decision in In re Greenburg (May 5, 2009):
“During the hearing, Mr. Greenburg suggested that “some hanky-panky” on the part of Mr. Lewis might well justify an award of attorney’s fees to Mr. Greenburg’s client. The following exchange then occurred:
Mr. Lewis: Here we go again, Your Honor, the former D.A. is always suspect—
Mr. Greenburg: Your Honor, I’m going to object right now—
Mr. Lewis: —or somebody . . . the law—
The Court: Gentlemen, quiet.
Mr. Greenburg: —and ask that this jackass—
The Court: Gentlemen, quiet. Quiet, gentlemen.
Mr. Greenburg: —quit bringing up anything—
Mr. Lewis: Jackass?
Mr. Greenburg: Jackass.
Mr. Lewis: Your mother is a jackass.
The Court: Hey, hey, hey. All right, y’all are both in contempt.
“Following the exchange of profanities, Mr. Greenburg grabbed Mr. Lewis’ suit jacket and both men fell to the floor.“
In addition to each being cited for contempt, Greenburg was convicted of battery against Lewis. The Court suspended Greenburg for a year and Lewis for six months, although all but 30 days of Lewis’ suspension was stayed.
So remember, when you’re arguing with opposing counsel, leave his or her mother out of it.