Every so often someone will claim that discrimination is gone or mostly gone. Yet, evidence of bias pops up everywhere. In a recent trial in a patent infringement case in Marshall, Texas, a witness from Israel was testifying. The defense lawyer was cross examining the Israeli witness. Asking about the witness’ lunch meeting at Bodacious Barbacue, the defense lawyer asked what he ate. "I bet not pork," he offered. Apparently, the defense lawyer thought this comment was humorous.
The lawyer later apologized for the remark to the jury.
The jury eventually found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded $3.7 million against Cisco Systems. But, because of the remark by the defense lawyer, the federal magistrate who heard the case offered to consider a motion for new trial. See report. That is, after he dismissed the jury, he told the lawyers he would was troubled by the remark, no matter how innocent the lawyers intentions may have been. He said he would consider a motion for new trial if the plaintiff wished to file one. The verdict was large, but the plaintiff had sought $53 million. Commill USA v. Cisco Systems, Inc., Et Al.
Most people, lawyers especially, are on their best behavior in court. If this is the defense lawyer’s best behavior, one must wonder what he will utter in more casual settings. As I tell my managers and employers, ethnic jokes are the path to lawsuits and trouble. The only "safe" joke these days is a good ole fashioned Aggie joke…..