If you think it, please don't say it!

In New York, an attorney who asked a female attorney if she was "going through menopause" during a deposition was ordered to pay legal fees to the other attorney in the amount of $1,000 and ordered to complete a continuing legal education course on attorney professionalism and professional conduct. The Judge stated that the attorney's comment was intended to humiliate the female attorney on the basis of her age and gender. The Judge also stated that "when an attorney engages in discriminatory behavior, it reflects not only on the attorney's lack of professionalism, but also tarnishes the image of the entire legal profession and disgraces our system of justice. This conduct is adverse to the goals of justice and cannot be permitted to find a safe haven in the practice of law."

The offending attorney insisted that he made the comment out of the concern for her "medical condition" knowing that future depositions were scheduled to take place in the same room. The Judge rejected this explanation, stating that it could have been handled in a private and respectful manner. Instead, the attorney "chose to tell [her] in the presence of fourteen other attorneys, eleven of whom were male, that he hoped that she was not "menopausal." While the Court did not revoke the offending attorney's pro have vice admission, it did agree that sanctions were appropriate since "such behavior violates the Model Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the American Bar Association."

Professionalism should serve as your filter. While you think you are hilarious and witty, the person next to you might not think so. Good manners should not be forgotten as we navigate through the contentious waters of litigation. You won't gain an advantage being rude or engaging in ad hominem attacks. You will be sanctioned and lose the respect of those around you. Even if you think it, please don't say it. 

The suit is Cruz-Aponte et al v. Caribbean Petroleum Corp. et al., case number 3:09-cv-02092 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

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