In The 1920s, Could You "Text Message" The Ice Deliveryman?

I know how much Judge Silverman loves to preserve and celebrate our heritage, particularly as it relates to the courts and our rich South Florida judicial history.

So he would know for sure, but I'm fairly certain that in the old days you could not text message your boss from the witness stand about your testimony:
While the judge and attorneys conferred, a courtroom spectator passed a note to a defense attorney saying the witness, Sky Development chief operating officer Gavin Sussman, appeared to be text-messaging Sky chief executive Yizhak Toledano at the plaintiff table.

Vistaview attorney William Petros, a partner at Coral Gables-based Petros & Elegant, said the incident occurred while the judge and lawyers for both sides met at the bench on the third day of trial.

Petros asked for another sidebar and relayed his suspicions. The judge asked Sussman if he’d been text-messaging, and he admitted he and Toledano texted twice about Sussman’s testimony, Petros said.

One message from Toledano to Sussman said: “We never filed a lawsuit against seller. These people developed the site 40 years ago, in 40 years and know every corner.” It wasn’t clear from a transcript who sent the second text saying, “We maybe got this document after Sept. 7 when the bank discovered the problem.”

Petros asked for a mistrial, which the judge granted.

Before that, Silverman had engaged in a heated exchange with Toledano. “Let me be really frank about this,” the judge said. “I never had this happen before. This is completely outrageous, absolutely outrageous.” Toledano responded, “It was on a break.” Silverman shot back: “It doesn’t matter. You are communicating about the case and the subject matter of the case with a witness who is currently under oath and before the jury,” Toledano said, “I’m sorry, after we took the break, it’s not in the middle.”

The judge explained himself again.

“It’s a problem on your communicating with the witness about his testimony whether it’s before the break, after the break and during the break while he’s testifying,” he said. “This is outrageous.”

A basic trial rule prevents people on the witness stand from communicating with anyone about their testimony during recesses or other breaks.

When the judge asked about the texts, Petros took Sussman’s phone to read them, and they exchanged sharp words over whether Petros snatched the phone. The bailiff threatened to call police and said “someone is going to get arrested if there’s no order in this court,” the transcript said.

Outside court, Petros repeated his objections to the electronic exchange.

“Texting in this manner is no different than being wired and having someone talk in your ear,” he said. “It was a fraud on the justice system. This case in my view is an intentional interference with the judicial process, and an act like that infringes on the ability of the court and the judicial system to operate fairly and impartially.”

He contends the texting warrants dismissal of the case and plans to file a motion.
Bill, instead of filing the motion, you can have one of your kids text message it to HarveyRuvin92435, and that way you can also vote for Kris Allen in the American Idol finale.

I tell you, Harvey has really done wonders with the electronic filing system.


  1. Petros comments are a little over the top.

  2. Just another day in state court here in Miami!

  3. ham-and-schleppers-for-the-princessMay 15, 2009 at 10:12 AM

    Poor Judge Silverman, struggling to explain basic rules of civil procedure to an incredulous and oblivious witness.

  4. lovers-of=the-princessMay 16, 2009 at 10:38 AM

    Just freakin' ridiculous.

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