The Volokh Conspiracy

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"See You Next Tuesday"

I did not know this.


From Doyle v. Vault PK, an opinion by Judge Eddie Sturgeon (Cal. Super. Ct., San Diego County, July 13, 2022):

The purpose of this Minute Order is to address a statement made by Plaintiffs counsel, Timothy Scott, made on the record during trial on June 30, 2022. Specifically, while Mr. Scott was addressing the Court, and after this Court orally granted Defendant MTS's motion for nonsuit, Mr. Scott stated as follows:

"…I hope this doesn't sound unctuous, but just to end the weekend on a good note, I want to thank the court staff. I want to say to have a good weekend to Mr. DeMaria. I want to say have a good weekend to Ms. Frerich. And I want to say have a good weekend to both MTS counsel. I'll See you next Tuesday. See you next Tuesday."

Completely unaware of the intended meaning of "See you next Tuesday," (see infra), the Court responded, "How kind."

On Tuesday, July 5, 2022, counsel for MTS approached the Court and requested to be heard about an issue concerning the above statement made by Mr. Scott on June 30, 2022. The Court and all counsel met in chambers to discuss the issue. The in-chambers meeting was recorded and documents consisting of various emails were provided to the Court. During this meeting it was revealed, that unbeknownst to the Court, the term "See you next Tuesday," is a serious covert insult directed towards women. (See It was also revealed during the in-chambers meeting that Mr. Scott intentionally made the statement with the full knowledge of the meaning of the phrase. Mr. Scott tried to explain that his deliberate use of the phrase was an "inside joke" between him and one of this firm employees which he expected no one in the courtroom would detect. However, it is not a joke to this Court that Mr. Scott made this egregious and offensive insult intentionally to two female attorneys via a coded message. In fact, but for Ms. Lagasse bringing it to the Court's attention, this wrongdoing would have been undetected. Mr. Scott not only attempted to deceive all counsel, but also this Court, into believing he genuinely was wishing everyone a nice weekend when in fact he was purposefully directing a derogatory epithet toward the female defense attorneys who had just prevailed in a nonsuit in this case.

"An attorney is an 'officer of the court' who, by virtue of his or her professional position, undertakes certain 'special duties … to avoid conduct that undermines the integrity of the adjudicative process.'" In other words," '[l]t is vital to the integrity of our adversary legal process that attorneys strive to maintain the highest standards of ethics, civility, and professionalism in the practice of law.' Indeed, unwarranted personal attacks on the character or motives of the opposing party, counsel, or witnesses are inappropriate and may constitute misconduct." "When, during the course of trial, an attorney violates his or her obligations as an officer of the court, the judge may control the proceedings and protect the integrity of the court and the judicial process by reprimanding the attorney.'

Mr. Scott's statement directed to Ms. Lagasse and Ms. Oberrecht is reprehensible and will not be tolerated in this courtroom. As such, for reasons stated above, the Court finds that it has a duty to alert the State Bar of California of Mr. Scott's conduct on June 30, 2022 and will be filing a Discipline Referral with the State Bar.

Just to be clear, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and often "see you next Tuesday" means see you next Tuesday (see, e.g., here). (And don't confuse it with "see you next Wednesday.") But here Scott admitted that he was using it deliberately, even though he says he hadn't expected opposing counsel to pick up on it. And of course in a courtroom—and, more generally, in the litigation process—lawyers aren't allowed to use vulgar insults towards each other, whether based on sex or race or anything else, and whether they're coded or overt.

For a different perspective of the matter, see footnote 2 in People v. Arno (Cal. Ct. App. 1979). Look that up in your Funk & Wagnall's.