Infuriating excerpt from What it Takes to Be a Trial Lawyer if You are not a Man by Lara Bazelon, The Atlantic, September 2018:
Last year, Elizabeth Faiella took a case representing a man who alleged that a doctor had perforated his esophagus during a routine medical procedure. Before the trial began, she and the defense attorney, David O. Doyle Jr., were summoned to a courtroom in Brevard County, Florida, for a hearing. Doyle had filed a motion seeking to “preclude emotional displays” during the trial—not by the patient, but by Faiella.
“Counsel for the Plaintiff, Elizabeth Faiella, has a proclivity for displays of anguish in the presence of the jury, including crying,” Doyle wrote in his motion. Faiella’s predicted flood of tears, he continued, could be nothing more than “a shrewdly calculated attempt to elicit a sympathetic response.”
Faiella told the trial judge, a man, that Doyle’s allegations were sexist and untrue. The judge asked Doyle whether he had a basis for the motion. Faiella says that he replied that he did, but the information was privileged because it came from his client. (Doyle told me the information had in fact come from other defense attorneys.) Faiella called his reply “ridiculous.” She told me: “I have never cried in a trial. Not once.”
As Faiella listened to Doyle press forward with his argument, her outrage mounted. But she had to take care not to let her anger show, fearing it would only confirm what Doyle had insinuated—that she would use emotional displays to gain an advantage in the courtroom.
The judge denied Doyle’s request, saying, in essence, “I expect both parties to behave themselves.” Afterward, Faiella confronted Doyle in the hallway. “Why would you file such a thing?” she demanded, noting that it was unprofessional, sexist, and humiliating.
“I don’t understand why you are getting so upset,” she says Doyle replied. (Doyle denied that gender was the motivating factor behind filing the motion; he said he had filed such motions against male attorneys as well.)
When I asked Faiella for a copy of Doyle's motion, she said that she could send me examples from more than two dozen cases across her 30-year career. She said that at least 90 percent of her courtroom opponents are male, and that they file a “no-crying motion” as a matter of course. Judges always deny them, but the damage is done: The idea that she will unfairly deploy her feminine wiles to get what she wants has been planted in the judge’s mind. Though Faiella has long since learned to expect the motions, every time one crosses her desk she feels sick to her stomach.
“I cannot tell you how much it demeans me,” she said. “Because I am a woman, I have to act like it doesn’t bother me, but I tell you that it does. The arrow lands every time.”