That's of course a nod to the piercingly sharp wit of yes -- you heard correctly -- Charles Grodin, but it also applies to these new lawyer civility panels:
Hey, that's half of what we write about!Attention all lawyers: Be nice to each other, or else.
Attorneys across the state will soon be called on the carpet in a new way whenever their incivility toward each other crosses the professional line.
Courthouse administrators in Broward and Palm Beach counties are establishing local professionalism panels to resolve disputes between attorneys before they escalate into formal complaints to the Florida Bar. The panels were ordered in each of the state's 20 judicial circuits by the Florida Supreme Court.
"Surveys of both lawyers and judges continue to consistently reflect that professionalism is one of the most significant adverse problems that negatively impact the practice of law in Florida today," the court's justices wrote in a June 6 order establishing the professionalism panels.
Conceivably, the disputes could involve everything from name-calling in court to communications that might be interpreted as physical threats, said Broward lawyer Kevin Tynan, who defends other attorneys accused of violating Florida Bar rules.
"The Supreme Court is very concerned about lawyer civility, as it should be," said Tynan. "In the heat of battle, sometimes people need to realize we're human too. We make mistakes."
As described by the Supreme Court, the panels will serve as a sort of filter, separating minor disagreements that can be resolved informally from serious ones that actually constitute rule violations and require formal discipline.
And here's Alberto Milian reporting on his 99 percent civility success rate:
Miami lawyer Alberto Milian, who also handles cases in Broward, said he has often found himself on the wrong side of accusations of incivility, usually by opposing attorneys who challenge statements he makes in front of a jury. In those cases, the judges have backed Milian 99 percent of the time, he said.Is that like self-reporting your handicap?
(I kid of course -- don't panel me please.)
In all seriousness, this is a good thing and overdue, but it starts by looking in the mirror.
Incivility is like bad driving -- everyone thinks it's always the other guy.