April 2022 Millar’s JurisDiction - Wake-Up Call

by Richard W. Millar, Jr.

When I was young, my father often had to go to New York or Chicago on business. On a few occasions, he took me with him. It was great fun. We would board the Super Chief at the Santa Fe station in Pasadena and it would be two days and nights to Chicago or three to New York. I had the upper bunk, which would fold into the ceiling during the day, and there was nothing quite like sleeping to the rhythm of the rails.

No one bemoaned the time it took to travel because there was no faster alternative.

On my first trip, after we got to our hotel, my father picked up the telephone in our room and called the hotel operator for a wake-up call. I remember it because I had no idea you could arrange for such a service. Sure enough, at the appointed time the next morning, the phone rang with a real person giving a cheery wake-up.

Even now a wake-up call is still defined as a telephone call from a hotel employee to a guest that serves to wake a sleeper although a darker meaning has crept in as something to alert a person to a problem or danger.

So, it is only fitting that I return to Chicago for this column.

Some time ago, a series of jokes circulated with variations on the theme of “you know it's going to be a bad day when . . . .” My favorite answer was “when Mike Wallace and the entire 60 Minutes team shows up on your doorstep.” I will update that for these temporal purposes as “when you are a judge and a transcript of your conversation is published on Buzzfeed.”

To “set the table,” to use a current phrase, a male Chicago judge was reliving a hearing he had earlier in the morning involving a New York woman lawyer of some renown who had appeared on behalf of a Chicago man who claimed he had been framed by the police for a murder he did not commit. According to newspaper reports, the judge had become frustrated with the lawyer as she allegedly shook her head in displeasure and said that prosecutors were lying about the history of the case. The judge admonished her for head shaking and yelling at him. She, on the other hand, said she was “passionate” but not “yelling.” For all of us who have sat in countless courtrooms hearing countless matters, this type of conflict is not particularly unusual. Nor in these days of covid was it particularly unusual that the proceedings were livestreamed on YouTube.

What was unusual was that the livestreaming didn’t stop.

After the hearing, the judge was conversing with a couple of prosecutors and a public defender.

Judge: “Did you see her going nuts?! Glasses off, fingers through her hair, the phone’s going all over the place, it’s insane.”
First Prosecutor (female): “That was so entertaining!”
Judge: “It was entertaining for me!”

A little bit later, this column-worthy exchange:

Second prosecutor (female): “She’s maybe not the nicest person.”
Judge: “Can you imagine waking up next to her every day? Oh my God!”
First prosecutor: “There would be a number of things wrong with my life if I was waking up next to her every day.”
Judge: “I couldn’t have a visual on that if you paid me. So, there you have it.”

Then the realization:

Second prosecutor: “Judge, we have to come down with our AV Unit because there’s a TV down there that we’re supposed to learn how to use.”

Judge: “Okay. It’s sitting right here in front of me so I don’t know . . . .”
Second prosecutor: “I have a big stack of things for you to sign.”
Judge: “Ohh, wait . . . Media streaming live on YouTube? What’s up with this?”
*End of Livestream*

I think that qualifies as a double wake-up call.

Richard W. Millar, Jr. is Of Counsel with the firm of FSG Lawyers PC in Irvine. He can be reached at rmillar@fsglawyers.com.