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Legal Ethics

Lawyer’s ‘Bombast’ Gets Verdict Tossed

Posted Oct 11, 2007 1:33 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Colorado lawyer Mark Brennan is firing back at a judge who ordered a new trial in an employment case because of "boorish and unprofessional" behavior by the lawyer.

U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn of Denver recently overturned a $1.2 million jury verdict for Brennan’s client in an age discrimination case and ordered a new trial, saying the jury had been prejudiced by Brennan’s grandstanding.

Brennan told the Rocky Mountain News that Blackburn insulted the jury by assuming it couldn’t decide the case on the basis of the law and the facts. "This essentially has nothing to do with my conduct and everything to do with his animosity toward me personally," he said. "Let me tell you something: There are a lot of lawyers in this town who do much more outrageous things than I ever did in that courtroom."

In tossing the verdict, Blackburn said Brennan made "mordaciously sarcastic" comments, attempted to inject editorial comments into the record, and kept talking without waiting for a ruling on objections by the defense, the newspaper reported in an earlier article.

"In over 19 years on the bench, I have seen nothing comparable," Blackburn wrote. "Such disrespectful cockalorum, grandstanding, bombast, bullying and hyperbole as Mr. Brennan exhibited throughout the trial are quite beyond my experience as a jurist, and, I fervently hope, will remain an aberration during the remainder of my time on the bench."

The newspaper posted a definition of cockalorum: It means “boastful talk; crowing.”

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