Clifford Law Offices presented its 16th annual Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program titled, “Refresher on Ethics in Trial Work in a Courtroom” on Thursday, February 16, 2023, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. CST. The virtual CLE program was approved for two (2.0) hours of professional responsibility credit in Illinois by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.
Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, moderated the program with three expert panelists.
Clifford Law Offices’ 2023 Continuing Legal Education Program
Refresher on Ethics in Trial Work in a Courtroom
Note: Viewers cannot receive CLE credit for watching the recorded version.
The two-hour program examined different types of behavior and etiquette in various scenarios that could occur within the courtroom. Through live polling from the attendees, along with the advice and opinions of the expert panelists, and Bob playing devil’s advocate, there was no shortage of discussion.
James Grogan, Adjunct Ethics Professor at Loyola College of Law, former ARDC Deputy Administrator and Chief Counsel, discussed the conflict of the Frist Amendment and what is ethically and morally appropriate in a trial setting. He emphasized that, against popular belief, the First Amendment is limited, and while obnoxious behavior is against the lawyer’s code of conduct, it is not illegal. However, if an attorney disagrees with the judge’s rule, and he/she has a disrespectful reaction toward the judge, those actions can be considered against the lawyer’s code of conduct and can be punishable.
Christopher R. Heredia, CNA Risk Control Consulting Director, Global Specialty for Lawyers Professional Liability, and Former Litigation Counsel for the ARDC was a great resource for several different topics that were discussed. Early in the program, Chris discussed social media, the First Amendment, and how they intertwine. Similar to Jim, Chris stressed how the First Amendment is limited for those in the legal profession and how that applies to social media. For example, if a law clerk posts on social media about the ruling on a case, although not illegal, it is an issue that can greatly impact the attorney, judge, and the overall tone of the courtroom. Chris summarizes with the thought that posting about a case is not worth the risk.
Judge April G. Troemper, Circuit Court Judge in the Seventh Judicial Circuit at Macoupin County and Member of the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee (IJEC) brought a new perspective to the discussion. Judge Troemper emphasized the importance of impartiality and fairness on behalf of the judge who is responsible for taking control and setting the tone of the courtroom. It is imperative that the judge has control of the courtroom. If the plaintiff attorney and defense attorney have personalities that do not work well together, the judge must take control by setting boundaries and behavior he/she will and will not tolerate. Overall, Judge Troemper is a firm believer in honesty and truthfulness.