This week, former NFL player and Dancing With the Stars contestant Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson learned an important lesson that all litigants and their attorneys must remember: court decorum matters. Johnson appeared in a Florida court to plead guilty to a probation violation and had reached a deal giving him community service instead of jail time. The judge was ready to accept the deal but quickly backtracked after asking Johnson if he was satisfied with his representation and Johnson, to the amusement of the court room, approvingly patted his lawyer on the rear end, a gesture common on the field but not in the courtroom. It was not well taken. The court concluded Johnson was not taking the proceedings seriously, so it rejected the plea deal and sentenced Johnson to 30 days in jail.
These facts are unusual and even amusing at some level (though jail time is no laughing matter). But they should serve as a very important and serious reminder to all persons involved in any litigation that behavior in court counts....
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