Many of us have been in a situation where we’ve told a joke that landed flat. Who are they to judge, right! This time, a judge actually.
New York has a reputation for being a fast-paced and apathetic city — its escalators are also great for crying on. From time to time, it’s almost a given that you’ll get some performers trying to shake up the day-to-day.
A New York state court judge in Brooklyn has ordered sanctions for an unnamed attorney who made a series of off-color jokes and comments toward interns, a clerk and opposing counsel ahead of a courtroom appearance at Kings County Supreme Court.
Justice Aaron D. Maslow ordered the attorney to take continuing legal education courses in ethics and professionalism and elimination of bias.
A quick reminder to the unnamed attorney, when you take that CLE, please make sure that either your clothes are secure or your camera is off. It would be a little too on the nose to go from a robing room controversy to broadcasting your bits to people trying to learn from the legal equivalent of Chidi Anagonye.
Though admonishing the attorney, Justice Maslow said in his Wednesday order that he believed the attorney was attempting to be funny and that the opposing counsel and interns did not issue formal complaints about the “undignified and discourteous” behavior of the attorney — but that the justice himself was offended upon learning of the lawyer’s conduct.
What follows are a few of the unnamed attorney’s remarks. Fair warning, they read like a list of high comedy targeted specifically for an audience consisting of 14 year old boys goofing off in Bible study:
* [T]he attorney was said to have made a series of statements including commenting on a female law school intern’s appearance and telling her that “if I were younger I would flirt” with her and that he could covet her because she was unmarried, a reference to the biblical Ten Commandments.
* Used what the justice called “certain terms to refer to people of Polish and Ukrainian descent” upon learning of opposing counsel’s Ukrainian heritage.
* “Attempted to engage in unsolicited conversation with another intern as to his Judaic belief system,” commented that he was a “juris doctor, not a Jewish doctor,”
Sorry to kick an unnamed man while he’s down, but let’s cut the routine out of the 9-5, shall we? Leave the lawyer who does overwhelmingly cringy things as a comedy schtick to Rebel Wilson.
On a much more positive note, kudos to Justice Aaron D. Maslow! As important as it is to call out people for asshats, it’s also important to ask why they felt that comfortable in the first place? Unsolicited flirting and unearned familiarity with strangers (that’s where I’m grouping the vague “certain terms to refer to people of Polish and Ukrainian descent bit) run rampant in places that lack accountability measures and are populated with enablers that either encourage or turn a deaf ear to things done in poor taste. Thanks for spreading a little bit of Javiar Bardem energy, Judge.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at email@example.com and by tweet at @WritesForRent.