Naturally I read the legal commentary following Nel’s cross of Pistorius. Most lawyers were critical, labeling Nel’s sarcasm and bullying as argumentative and thus objectionable in a US court. While I generally agree with those observations, it appears there is a place for bulldogging.
It seems like Paul Calli has gone to school on the “bulldog” method. Paul is representing my friends, Guy Lewis and Mike Tein, seeking sanctions for the patently false allegations made against them by the Miccosukee Tribe and its lawyers. The sanctions hearing is without a jury, so Judge Cooke is apparently allowing more “flexibility” on cross-examination. Here are excerpts from the Daily Business Review article on Calli’s cross of the tribe’s attorney:
“Lewis Tein’s attorney, Paul Calli, a partner at Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, spent much of the hearing cross-examining Roman.
When he tried to explain his testimony that Lewis Tein didn’t hand over files when it was fired by the tribe in 2010, Calli retorted: ‘This is another instance of you perjuring yourself in front of Judge Cooke. You know Lewis Tein provided those files.’
Calli then provided documentation showing Lewis Tein turned over files.”
“Roman defended himself against accusations of lying on his direct testimony about Lewis Tein’s fees and performance in cases it took on for tribal members.
At one point, Roman’s voice cracked under questioning, prompting Calli to ask him if he needed a glass of water.
At times, Roman’s attorney, William Hill of Gunster in Miami, objected to Calli’s accusations of perjury, but Cooke often allowed them, saying at one point it was ‘appropriate.'”
[You know the hearing is going well when the judge comments that accusations of perjury are appropriate!]
“Roman testified Lewis Tein handled only simple matters for the tribe and wasn’t experienced in some cases it took on.
‘Why did you purposefully omit facts?’ Calli asked Roman at another point.”
“Calli noted the RICO complaint filed by Roman stated Lewis’ home had a wall of 50 antique clocks and a chair reportedly from the ‘Gone with the Wind’ movie set. The items were listed to show sudden unexplained wealth since Lewis started representing the tribe around 2006.
Calli asked if Roman did any investigation about the clocks, which Calli said were bequeathed to Lewis in his uncle’s will, and the chair was purchased in Tennessee for about $1,100. Roman said he did not know that, but the items needed to be taken in the context of the complaint.
‘The tribe and its lawyers hid critical documents, provided misleading information to various courts, attempted to suborn perjury, and retaliated against a witness who provided truthful testimony backed by the tribe’s own records,’ Calli’s July 25 pleading said.’”
Most trial lawyers agree that Nels’ cross-examination techniques are argumentative, yet in this non-jury hearing, a well respected federal judge allowed them. While this was not a trial, it was an important hearing. FRE 1101(d)(3) provides that the rules of evidence don’t apply to miscellaneous proceedings so no doubt the judge relaxed the examinations, and “bulldogging” surfaced!