Whatever You Do During Trial Breaks, Don't Let Them See You Eat

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 20, 2018 4:02 PM

When trial lawyers and clients break for lunch, a kind of paranoia sets in.

They circle around a lunch table, ever careful not to sit too close to opposing counsel or parties. In the courthouse cafeteria or elevators, they look over their shoulders and always avoid jurors.

If you haven't experienced that kind of high-stakes litigation, it gets crazy up in there. Just look at what went down in the Paul Manafort trial.

Prosecutor Paranoia

When jurors emerge from deliberations, make no mistake -- all eyes follow them. It's the kind of attention that can make anybody feel uneasy.

Prosecutors in the Manafort case felt it, too. It's not just how the judge gave them public tongue-lashings in the courtroom; they really felt like people were following them outside.

Journalists, trying to pick up crumbs of information, were everywhere. Robert Mueller had his own following of paparazzi and social media users taking his picture.

It was so bad, attorneys had to hide their food. According to the New York Times, reporters wanted to know what prosecutors ordered to eat at the Shake Shack.

Elevator Signals

The prosecutors had a standing "no comment" policy, but it got uncomfortable at times. Attorney Uzo Asonye gave his colleague the "stop talking" signal when a reporter stepped into the elevator.

For the rest of us, it's usually not so intense. We just have to make sure opposing counsel, parties and jurors don't hear us talking outside the courtroom.

If you have time, get away from the courthouse during lunch breaks where you can talk freely. And whatever you do, don't let them see you eat.

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