August 08, 2006


Judge: Lawyer is too drunk to argue case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A judge ordered a blood-alcohol test for a defense lawyer whom she said smelled of alcohol, then declared a mistrial after declaring him too tipsy to argue a kidnapping case.

"I don't think you can tell a straight story because you are intoxicated," Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt told defense lawyer Joseph Caramango as she declared a mistrial for Caramango's client, Dale Jakuchunas.

Caramango told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a Tuesday report that he was not drunk, and had been ready to go forward with witness testimony. Jakuchunas, 32, faces life in prison if convicted.

"I've always considered myself the consummate professional," Caramango said. "I take all my cases very personally."

He said he received a head injury in a rear-end car crash while driving to court on Thursday, but that police were not called. Caramango did not immediately respond Tuesday to a message seeking comment.

In an exchange recorded by courtroom video, Caramango arrived about 90 minutes late for trial, and can be heard slurring his words.

The judge asked if something was wrong, and said she became suspicious when details of Caramango's accident account varied.

Caramango also identified a woman who accompanied him to court as his ex-girlfriend, and called her Christine. Questioned by the judge, the woman identified herself as Josephine and said she just met Caramango about 20 minutes earlier at a nearby bar and grill.

Leavitt summoned Caramango and prosecutors into her chambers and ordered Caramango to be examined by a courthouse nurse.

The nurse told the judge that Caramango said he had shots of tequila hours before court. Caramango acknowledged in court that he was drinking the previous night, but maintained he was not drunk. [...]

I am reminded of the heartwarming scene in of one of the early episodes of Happy Days, when Ritchie sneaks out to a fraternity party.

RITCHIE: 'I'm not drunk--we just had beer, in teeeeeny weeny little glasses.'

MR. CUNNINGHAM: 'How many teeny weeny little glasses did you have?'

RITCHIE: 'Seventy-two.'

There's probably a good Johnnie Cochranism wandering around here somewhere, too--something like, "If the lawyer's lit, you MUST acquit." (You know, it's hard to make up a rhyme for 'mistrial'.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at August 8, 2006 01:12 PM

"If he ain't sobrietal, declare a mistrial"

Needs work.

Posted by: skinnydan at August 8, 2006 03:10 PM

What about, "If he can't walk down the aisle, you must declare a mistrial!"

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 8, 2006 03:24 PM

You know what? I don't think every phrase can be cochranized. No matter how hard we try.

Posted by: skinnydan at August 9, 2006 09:11 AM