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Wake-Up Call: New Trial Ordered After Lawyer Kept Falling Asleep

Attorney Stanton Levenson gives new meaning to the saying, "you snooze, you lose."

After James Nassida was convicted of mortgage fraud, a federal judge ordered a new trial because the attorney kept falling asleep during the proceedings. How bad was it?

It was so bad the client said he had to nudge the attorney awake every day during the weeks-long trial. It was so bad the opposing counsel had to tell the judge about it in the middle of the trial. It was so bad even the jurors deliberated about it.

It gets better, or worse, depending on your perspective. Here are a few gems from the judge's order granting a new trial:

How Long Was It?

"During his testimony, Attorney Levenson admitted that he had slept during trial but that he did not know how long," Judge Donetta Ambrose said.

Well, that sounds about right, since we can assume he didn't set an alarm.

"Mr. Levenson stated that he felt badly about falling asleep and that he had joined in Mr. Nassida's request for a mistrial because the relationship between them had deteriorated," she continued.

Of course, the relationship deteriorated -- because the client kept disturbing the attorney's naps!

"Juror Number 11 testified that she noticed Mr. Levenson sleeping around four or five times for a few minutes, 'maybe three, four, five minutes, something like that.'"

Every day?!

Something Like That

It wasn't just Juror Number 11. Every juror saw Levenson sleeping during the trial, including two alternates. Except Juror No. 6, who said she only heard other jurors talking about it. But virtually everybody else saw the lawyer napping, including the judge, opposing counsel, and witnesses.

Levenson explained that he was taking medications that made him drowsy. The judge, though sympathetic, said it was not fair to his client and appointed a new, less sleepy lawyer.

We all get tired on the job sometimes. But this case should serve as a, um, wake-up call that you really shouldn't do it on the record. In chambers, maybe.

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