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In my first years of practice on more than one occasion I had the experience of being “dressed down” by the presiding judge during or after a trial. In each instance I had been aggressively arguing in favor of my client within the ethical bounds of my profession. Sometimes the judge would comment that I was getting close to being banned from his courtroom in the future.

At the time, I felt the threat of banning was just a strong and archaic way of expressing displeasure with my determination to achieve justice for my clients. I never really thought banning could occur. So, I continued being true to myself and to fight for my clients with every argument I could ethically make.

I have never been banned from any judge’s courtroom, and the threats seem to have ceased as my hair turned gray. My assumption is that a mature, aggressive advocate is given more leeway than an inexperienced lawyer.

Now, I read that banning is back in the Tampa Bay courts of justice. In fact, it is actually being applied rather than just threatened. My guess is that the banned lawyers only recently commenced practice. To the judges involved in the cases below I say, pick on somebody your own age. Banning and dunking are not part of our modern system of justice.

From the St. Pete Times:

Did judges’ bans exceed authority?

In a seven-page letter this week to the chief judge, Hillsborough Public Defender Julianne Holt said two county judges overstepped their authority by barring two attorneys in her office from their courtrooms.

In her letter, Holt said both judges should have taken corrective action in each particular case instead of issuing what appeared to be a permanent ban. She cited cases in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina that said only a state’s highest court can impose such a broad sanction.

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