If you are a lawyer who does trial work in Baltimore City Circuit Court, chances are you know about Judge Alfred Nance’s courtroom rules.
I have sat in the judge’s courtroom once or twice for stories and knew he ran a tight ship. But I had also heard that, unlike some judges, Nance’s courtroom rules are not of the unwritten variety.
Sure enough, attached to a motion to dismiss filed by an assistant public defender whose case had been declared a mistrial by Nance was a copy of a two-page document from the judge’s courtroom with more a dozen rules, addressed to “all attorneys.”
Among the items:
1. Stand when addressing the Court.
2. Once the proceeding begins, do not move from counsel table without permission of the Court.
3. Address and refer to all adults — parties, witnesses and counsel — by their surname; not their first name.
7. Do not ask questions of or confer with other counsel on the record without obtaining permission of the Court.
11. Do not mislead the Court about fact or law.
13. Do not assume the Court has the resources you need: e.g. videotape, Xeroxing, X-ray boxes, charts, markers. Check with the Court well in advance of trial. Better yet, bring your own.
14. Do not make personal attacks, i.e. do not attack your sister or brother counsel unless you have no other option. Even then, consider not doing it.
Have you ever come across another judge who has written rules for his or her courtroom? What do you think of Nance’s rules?
(In case you missed it, here’s what our Editorial Advisory Board had to say about Nance’s conduct from the bench.)