ABA Journal


Court security

Courthouse fray sends lawyers to hospital, jail

Jan 23, 2013, 08:13 pm CST


In this age of "alternative dispute resolution" it is easy to forge that our legal system is, itself, an alternative to resolving disputes through physical violence, which is the most traditional method.

By Patrick on 2013 01 23, 9:10 pm CST

Time for law schools to add judo to their curricula.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 23, 9:28 pm CST

If lawyers were required to carry guns stuff like this wouldn't happen. That's the real problem with the Second Amendment, it's only permissive. It ought to be mandatory.

By Pushkin on 2013 01 23, 9:41 pm CST

I would think one of them was Adamius, except that this was at a courthouse.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 24, 12:26 am CST

Dumb and embarassing. Someone needs to be suspended for a few years.

By Island Attorney on 2013 01 24, 1:39 am CST

I heard the lawyer who got beat up threw a coffee in the face of the one who did the beating first, seems they both should have been arrested.....

By WV lawyer on 2013 01 24, 4:28 am CST

Yeah. I would think they were BOTH Adamius, except that would be impossible (and it was at a courthouse).

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 24, 1:27 pm CST

@3 Pushkin "If lawyers were required to carry guns stuff like this wouldn’t happen."

You seriously want gunfights in a courthouse?

By seriously? on 2013 01 24, 4:10 pm CST

Lets see:
Firearms are objects, designed to kill quickly, in a very easy and relatively safe manner (when used as directed there is little physical risk, legal risk is another matter). Sure there are other uses, but killing is what they are prescribed for. Many other things kill. Of those that are design for that purpose, the firearm is the one that most can use with relative ease and effectiveness. Even a child can use a firearm to kill multiple adults with relative ease.

In the USA, people have a right to own firearms.

Now it gets tricky. Does right to firearms = the right to kill? When we fight to keep the right to bear arms, are we also stating that we should have to power for the instant and easy taking of life?

In this case, had both of these gentlemen had known that the act of tossing coffee or using fist/feet against the other would be a forfeiture of life, would the deterrent of death have prevented this event? Is the deterrent of death something that should be wielded by the individual and not just the government?

By TTYL on 2013 01 24, 6:06 pm CST

@8 - You seriously don't understand sarcasm?

By isolde on 2013 01 24, 6:36 pm CST

Come on, chill out everyone. Besides, we all know that the real solution to the rising tide of violence that threatens to overwhelm the bar will involve outsourcing, flat fees and other new models for monetizing the the provision of what used to be called "legal counsel" and shall henceforth be known as "legal services."

By Patrick on 2013 01 24, 6:45 pm CST

@11, is it really that bad, a "rising tide of violence that threatens to overwhelm the bar"?
Any examples or statistics?

@10, generally sarcasm in legal matters leaves one open to collateral attack, but when it comes to firearms, its just not funny anymore, and downright scary and dangerous.

By seriously? on 2013 01 24, 7:16 pm CST

"Gentlemen! You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"

-- Stanley Kubrick, "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 24, 11:50 pm CST

Anyhone know if they were opposing counsel, or co-counsel?

By Ham Solo on 2013 01 25, 10:50 am CST

Must be a WV "thang". I once had to restrain co-counsel in the chambers of a US District Court Judge, with the Judge present, when opposing counsel came in (late) and threw a pleading down on the table. My co-counsel played D Line for Vanderbilt (opposite Joe Willie), so it was no easy task. The Judge walked the other guy out of chambers. Aside: final payment in the case was received by my client 12 years later.

By DeadHead on 2013 01 25, 1:03 pm CST

The other lawyer ought to learn how to fight with more than words.

By Alvin Leaphart on 2013 01 25, 1:37 pm CST

West Virginia paper reports they didn't have a case against each and what caused the fight is unkown...

By Nevadaraacer on 2013 01 25, 2:10 pm CST

I know some of the folks involved in this story. Apparently these two have had a long running feud. Radman tossed a cup of coffee and choked Murphy before Murphy lost it. Before jumping to conclusions perhaps we should wait to hear what the outcome of the arraignment is. Whatever happened, practicing law is stressful enough without other attorneys harping on a situation they no little or nothing about. Someday it could be you.

By WV Attorney 2 on 2013 01 25, 2:28 pm CST

But was it a cup of McDonald's coffee?

By Texaslawyer on 2013 01 25, 2:36 pm CST

What was needed in that courtroom was a good guy with a fist, to stop the bad guy with a fist.

By Curmudgeon, Esq. on 2013 01 25, 2:44 pm CST

When courtrooms start permitting attorneys, witnesses, court staff and, what the heck, defendants, to exercise their 2d amendment rights in the court these disturbances will be much more short and sweet. Could help clear the court's docket as well.

By rosslaw on 2013 01 25, 2:51 pm CST

Coffee is allowed in courtrooms in West Virginia? I should move my practice there.

By Rosa on 2013 01 25, 2:56 pm CST

@2: Amen to that!

By Oliver Tabuger on 2013 01 25, 2:57 pm CST

Perhaps this is simply a return to a simpler and more genteel time?
In medieval times it was considered honorable for a gentlemen to demand trial by combat, the theory being the Gods would favor the party who was right and justice served.

By Mark on 2013 01 25, 2:57 pm CST

West Va. , boys--Hatfields and McCoys, boys...

By Grayghost on 2013 01 25, 3:24 pm CST

@6 Well, I'm glad to know there were at least grounds.

By The Jet on 2013 01 25, 4:08 pm CST

LOL, Pushkin.

By Diva on 2013 01 25, 4:15 pm CST

@12, your partly right. Firearms are not and never were funny. But, what is truly scary are the sheeple willing to deny a portion of the Bill Of Rights (without which no State would have ratified the Constitution) and blame a tool,.... an instrumantality for the stupid and/or evil acts of it's operator (whose numbers represent a statistically non-existant percentage of the firearm owning population).
We The People will not "turn 'em in, folks", as Comrade Frankenfeinstein desires.

By mp533 on 2013 01 25, 5:30 pm CST

@25: I thought that many of the states would have ratified the constitution without the bill of rights. Otherwise, wouldn't those protections simply be incorporated into the constitution, rather than appended as a compromise?. To my recollection, only those states wherein antifederalists held sway (Virginia being the most significant example) insisted on the bill of rights.

Of course, that is probably significant to the intended function of the bill of rights. While the constitution dileneates a system of checks and balances internal to the federal government, it seems like the bill of rights ensures the preservation of rights whereby the states might check the authority of the federal government itself, as well as the influence of other states. That might suggest that the "well regulated milita" language of the second ammendment was paramount, and any implied private right was only incidental to that purpose. Of course, as of recently we've clearly got a private right under the second amendment.

As to the proper role of the bill of rights in a contemporary conception of federalism, it seems to me that the civil war was in essence an attempt by the states which had inisted on the bill of rights to check the authority of the federal government. That did not end well for any of the stakeholders who waged the war (though some of the collateral effects of the conflict, i.e., emancipation, were pretty great).

I honestly don't know what to make of all this, but maybe folks with a better grasp of the historical context of the bill of rights can weigh in shed some light.

By Patrick on 2013 01 25, 5:46 pm CST

Sorry, that last should have been directed to @28, not @25.

By Patrick on 2013 01 25, 5:46 pm CST

The only thing the US Constitution has to do with a lawyer allegedly committing an aggravated battery on another lawyer, is the defendant's 5th, Amendment Right against self incrimination, his 6th Amendment Right to Counsel and his 6th Amendment Right to a Speedy Trial and guilt proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

All the other crap is bull shit.

By Angelo Dickens JD on 2013 01 25, 6:07 pm CST

Gun control is not the topic of this article. Please keep on-topic.

<b>Lee Rawles
Web Producer</b>

By Lee Rawles on 2013 01 25, 6:33 pm CST

@mp533 and others like you,

PLEASE stop using language like "sheeple" and "Comrade Frankenfeinstein" in your arguments. You are correct on the substance of gun rights, but your divisive language is having the opposite effect of what you want. I can 100% guarantee you, as a former liberal myself, as soon as you use language like that, a great many people who are otherwise interested in conversation think you are either dumb, a jerk, or a right-wing conspiracy theorist. In any event, they will not listen to a word you say. It's too bad too, because I honestly believe that you are correct on the merits, and I want people to take what you're saying seriously.

Once you think negatively about people of a certain opinion, it is nearly impossible to agree with them, regardless of the underlying substance that forms that opinion.

By Words Are Important on 2013 01 25, 6:36 pm CST

@25 - One minor correction: West Virginia and Kentucky. The Hatfields were from West Virginia, and the McCoys were from Kentucky.

By The authentic LAB on 2013 01 25, 6:54 pm CST

Why do we have to keep on topic? What if the topic is played out, but the discussion itself is getting interesting?

By Patrick on 2013 01 25, 6:56 pm CST

Why rob yourself of your soul by becoming an attorney in the first place if you still mean to settle issues with your fists?

Sometimes I think about what I could and couldn't get away with without facing the CA State Bar if someone really disrespected me and injured my pride, or humiliated me in front of my woman to the point she lost respect for me forever. Does being an attorney mean you have to be a complete pacifist all the time? Where do we draw the lines? Do i have to file a civil suit and go through the whole damn process when it would be much more simple, and more just, just so crack someone in the jaw one good time?

By You call this coffee!? on 2013 01 25, 10:40 pm CST

What happened to the DUTY to retreat?

By Troy T. on 2013 01 26, 1:19 am CST

@32 Lee Rawles

Dear Mr. Lee Rawles: Have you heard about the First Amendment? Just wondering...

By First Amendment on 2013 01 28, 2:25 pm CST

@38: Yes, Mr. Rawles has probably heard about the First Amendment and knows it does not apply unless there is government action or the actor restricting or regulating the First Amendment is some other state actor or extension thereof. Is the ABA the "government" or a state actor? Just wondering.

By ReaganNYC on 2013 01 28, 9:32 pm CST

@ 39: Probably a state actor for some purposes (accrediting law schools, et cetera) but not for this one. Nevertheless, I've always thought of the Consitution as a reification of our American "constitution," in the sense of character or personality, such that it could be say that it is part of our national, normative character to value free speech, regardless of whether the right to speak freely in a private forum is legally protected.

By Patrick on 2013 01 28, 9:34 pm CST

It's Ms. Rawles, actually. Lee is a she. And, she is watching you, so don't make her break out the leather and lash.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 28, 11:50 pm CST

@41 B. McLeod
We know of your desires from all your prior trying to draw in Ms. Rawles does you no credit!

By de_Law on 2013 01 29, 5:37 pm CST

Ew. Back on topic, please.

<b>Lee Rawles
Web Producer</b>

By Lee Rawles on 2013 01 29, 5:45 pm CST

L O freaking L. Bless you all.

By Patrick on 2013 01 29, 5:56 pm CST

@43 Lee Rawles

The topic is lawyers behaving badly....and B. McLeod is my Exhibit A.

Or, have I somehow misread the topic?

All best....

By de_Law on 2013 01 29, 6:25 pm CST

Why, I hardly ever (or at least infrequently) behave badly.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 30, 12:13 am CST

@46 B. McLeod Exhibit B

(Thank you for your statement against interest, and being such a good straight man, in the classic sense of that phrase).

By de_Law on 2013 01 30, 4:16 am CST

The appropriate penalty should be 5 minutes each for fighting!

By SME on 2013 02 06, 4:42 pm CST

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