Hot Mic Catches Judge And Prosecutor Disparaging Defense Counsel
October 5, 2022
A courtroom in Florida was the scene of an unusual drama that ended with both the judge and the prosecutor being charged with contempt of court. The drama occurred when Judge Thomas Brown called Daniel Fernandez, a defense attorney who was representing a client on drug charges, nothing more than a two-bit shyster—and then failed to realize he had been caught on a hot mic while making his comment.
Hot Mic Catches LA Attorney
A hot mic caught the judge and prosecutor discussing how they felt about a defense attorney in their courtroom. They said he was dancing around the question and frustrating. They agreed that they would never hire him. This is one of those cases where you hear two people talking with no idea that someone else is listening to them, which makes it all the more embarrassing for them when someone hears what they say.
In this particular case, it’s unclear whether the judge was prejudging this attorney because of who he was representing (which would be unethical). The judge could also have been frustrated by some other aspect of his behavior in court. It’s hard to know for sure without more information about what happened before or after these comments were made.
The courtroom is the place where everyone’s lives are affected by what happens. The decisions made in those courtrooms can haunt people for years to come, but the decisions made outside of them can haunt them too. Just ask Judge John C. Murphy and prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, Jr., who was caught on a hot mic disparaging defense counsel in an Orange County courtroom. They didn’t think they would be overheard, but these judges and prosecutors will now have to answer for their actions.
Off The Record
The audio, obtained by The New York Times, captures the following conversation:
I’m not going to say a word, replies the prosecutor. We’ve talked about this. We’re just doing our job, he says. You don’t care what people think, right? I don’t care what people think either, replies the judge.
Transparency Is Good For the Public Image
Transparency is important in any profession, and this incident has highlighted the need for a more transparent justice system. The public should know how public officials are treating their employees, and what those employees are saying about them when they think no one is listening.
Lack of transparency breeds mistrust, and it’s already difficult for many people to believe that judges or prosecutors will give them a fair shake. We must work to restore the trust of the people who we serve.
All Parties Involved Issue Apologies
The prosecutor and judge were caught on a hot mic disparaging defense counsel in this story. This is of course unacceptable, but it happens more often than you might think. It’s important to be conscious of what can happen when you’re in a public space that has microphones or is being
filmed–particularly if you’re in an environment where people are wearing microphones like in a courtroom. If you suspect there could be a hot mic in the area, it’s best to avoid sensitive subjects and discuss them only with people who are aware that they may be recorded.
- Take a quick moment to process what you just heard. What do you think the judge and prosecutor are referring to?
- Do you know any lawyers or other judges who might have information about this situation?
- What do you want to do about this information? Is there anything that can be done, or does it all depend on whether the judge in question is still currently presiding over criminal cases in your jurisdiction?
- If the judge is still presiding, can you contact the bar association for your state and file a complaint with them regarding this situation? If so, please make sure that you’re aware of what kind of complaints they will accept before proceeding; if not, talk to an attorney for advice on how best to proceed.
How To Deal with Hot Mics in Courtrooms
In recent years, more and more judges have been installing equipment in their courtrooms to catch courtroom banter. The problem is that judges and prosecutors are not the only people who can hear those microphones. Anyone with the right equipment can listen in on what’s happening in a courtroom.
There are several steps you can take to help protect yourself against these risks:
If you know your mic is on, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want others to hear.
If you’re unsure if your mic is on or off, err on the side of caution and assume it’s always listening.
What Would You Do?
What would you do if a judge and prosecutor were caught on hot mic disparaging defense counsel?
- If you are the defense attorney, think about how this could affect your case. If you have any evidence of wrongdoing, call the ethics board or file a complaint with the Bar Association.
- If you are not directly involved in the case, consider whether it is appropriate to share this information with those who are defendants in pending criminal cases or other attorneys who appear before these judges or prosecutors.
- Don’t jump to conclusions: It’s possible that they were only joking around with each other and did not intend for these comments to be heard by others outside their office space.
- Keep browsing Law Scribd for more updates.