Legal Pad didn’t staff every federal courtroom in the Bay Area this morning, but even if we did, we suspect the award for Most Irritated Judge still would have gone to Saundra Armstrong.
Bench trial began in Oakland today in a hard-fought case between Disabilities Rights Advocates and Caltrans over thousands of curb cuts on state roads. And right away, Armstrong telegraphed her displeasure with the plaintiffs.
Memo to Larry Paradis: Next time, just print out the PowerPoint show.
DRA executive director Larry Paradis wasn’t in court right at 8:30, and his side hadn’t set up all their equipment; Armstrong peeked into the room twice, and when she saw the state of things, pronounced the delay would be taken out of plaintiff’s total time allotment.
Then, defense lawyer Gregory Hurley told the judge about a late disclosure from the other side. “Do you all try cases? This is crazy,” said Armstrong, who lectured about the importance of deadlines. And when the plaintiffs confessed that their exhibits were to be shared with the defense in electronic form — and not binders, as the court had directed — Armstrong suggested that they send one of their trial team to “Rite Aid or Walgreens” to purchase the necessary office supplies.
Paradis didn’t fare much better when he began his opening statement by placing a Caltrans document and began reading it aloud. “Don’t read all that stuff to me, just tell me what your case is going to show,” the judge said. Paradis then plodded on about the state’s failure to make its roads compliant with federal access requirements.
When it came time for Hurley, the defense lawyer reserved his time until the opening of his case. Yeah, we wouldn't have wanted to follow that act, either.
— Dan Levine