Jezebel reports that a Chicago lawyer is under fire after complaining that a“large breasted woman” seated at the opposing counsel’s table should be moved as to not distract the jury.
Attorney Thomas Gooch filed a motion asking Cook County Circuit Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers to order his opposing counsel’s paralegal, Daniella Atencia, to sit in the gallery with other spectators. Gooch claims the woman sitting next to the plaintiff’s lawyer has no legal experience and was placed there to “draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings.”
MOTION IN LIMINE (Presence of Plaintiff’s Counsel’s Companion at Counsel’s Table at Trial).
Now Comes your Defendant, Exotic Motors, by and through their attorneys, Gauthier & Gooch, and as for their Motion as aforesaid states to the Court as follows:
1. That Defendant’s counsel is anecdotally familiar with the tactics and theatrics of Plaintiff’s counsel, [redacted]. Such behavior includes having a large breasted woman sit next to him at counsel’s table during the course of the trial. There is no evidence whatsoever that this woman has any legal training whatsoever, and the sole purpose of her presence at Plaintiff’s Counsel’s table is to draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings before this court, obviously prejudicing the Defendant’s in this or any other cause. Until it is shown that this woman has any sort of legal background, she should be required to sit in the gallery with the rest of the spectators and be barred from sitting at counsel’s table during the course of this trial.
Gooch told the Chicago Sun-Times he wasn’t objecting to the woman because she’s buxom but because he doesn’t think she is a paralegal.
“Personally, I like large breasts, however, I object to somebody I don’t think is a qualified paralegal sitting at the counsel table — when there’s already two lawyers there — dressed in such a fashion as to call attention to herself.”
Attorney for the plaintiff, Dmitry N. Feofanov, responded that the motion was without merit and,
Plantiffs’ paralegal is clearly qualified for the work she performs before and during trials, and there is no reason to believe that her appearance at Plaintiffs’ table will have any detrimental effect on Defendants’ presentation of its case to a jury; and b) Defendant’s motion does not cite any existing law or make any good-faith legal argument for the proposition that a woman may be barred from a counsel’s table at a jury trial because she is “large breasted.”
Elie Mystal at Above The Law calls the motion, “One of the most sexist things you are likely to come across […] The motion itself is completely offensive. This isn’t a question of appropriate courtroom attire. This is just a woman with apparently awesome breasts. Essentially, this defense attorney wrote a whole motion to illustrate that he’s just a skeevy guy who maybe wants a date with the lady sitting at opposing counsel’s table.”
UPDATE 5.27.2011: The New York Daily News reports that Foefanov is particularly disgusted by Gooch’s words because Atencia is not just his paralegal but his wife, he revealed in a statement to the Daily News.
“Recent negative comments about my wife leave me no choice but to respond,” he wrote. “Ms. Atencia is quite shocked at the tenor of comments pertaining to her physical appearance and regarding her qualifications and professionalism, especially since the latter make those claims without a shred of evidence.”
“If there is a problem with decorum in the court room, our judges are capable of addressing it as it arises, not based on conjecture and innuendo,” he said. “Ms. Atencia resents this violation of her privacy and thinks it is unprofessional to subject her to attacks on her abilities and qualifications just because she comes to court to assist me in trying cases.”
He offered a further statement to Above The Law, who had reported on this case early on.
“My office is a one-lawyer office, ChicagoLemonLaw.com. I sue car dealers and car manufacturers for breaches of warranties and fraud. As in many small businesses and law offices, my wife, Daniella Atencia, is my office manager, my paralegal, my secretary, and my bill-payer. I have been brought up believing that it is not professional to try cases in the press, but recent negative comments about my wife leave me no choice but to respond.
Ms. Atencia is a university graduate, who studied, among other subjects, law. She is actually over-qualified as a paralegal, because many, if not most, paralegals do not go to college or do not obtain a university degree. Ms. Atencia has participated in every trial I have had since 2008. She provided valuable assistance not only to me but also to my co-counsel in many areas, including exhibit preparation. Her particular strength is jury selection. Her conduct has always been completely professional. Ms. Atencia participated in the trial where I obtained a six-figure verdict against Exotic Motors, the defendant in the current case. Most recently, Ms. Atencia participated in a trial in downstate Illinois, where we obtained a record verdict of $135,000 punitive damages against a car dealer. Ms. Atencia had been awarded paralegal fees for paralegal work in contested fee petitions by two judges in Cook County, in cases where defendants vigorously objected to her time claiming her work was of a secretarial nature, only to be overruled.
Ms. Atencia is quite shocked at the tenor of comments pertaining to her physical appearance and regarding her qualifications and professionalism, especially since the latter make those claims without a shred of evidence. If there is a problem with decorum in the court room, our judges are capable of addressing it as it arises, not based on conjecture and innuendo. Ms. Atencia resents this violation of her privacy and thinks it is unprofessional to subject her to attacks on her abilities and qualifications just because she comes to court to assist me in trying cases. She thinks the comments made about her have no place in the twenty-first century.”
Great going, Gooch. It was bad enough you made such an issue of your uncontrollable and distracting perving on an unknown “large breasted woman” and her qualifications to be present during the proceedings BEFORE finding out it was opposing council’s wife… but you felt she and her anatomy was fair game why? Simply because she was a female in “your” arena? Would a male paralegal’s qualifications have been questioned, much less his anatomy brought up in a motion to the judge if there HAD been any question?
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This entry was posted on Thursday, May 26th, 2011 at 6:05 pm. It is filed under Blog, Law, MiseryXchord, Social Theory and tagged with breasts, Daniella Atencia, Sexism, Thomas Gooch. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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