Trials for employment discrimination cases can be emotionally charged environments, and respecting the decision-makers in any court setting can make or break a party’s case. In a recent sexual harassment suit coming out of a California court, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed several rulings from the lower court that he claimed prevented him from having a fair trial. The court of appeals disagreed, affirming the defendant’s original verdict.
The facts of the case indicate that the defendant was accused of sexually harassing one of his female employees, repeatedly making obscene comments and touching her in inappropriate ways. After several years of this behavior, the plaintiff brought the defendant to court, and just before the trial began, the defendant fired the attorneys that were working on his case.
Without an attorney, the defendant elected to represent himself at trial, deciding he did not need counsel in order to get his point across. During the trial itself, the defendant did not obey any of the court’s rules and regulations. He shouted at prospective jurors, made faces during the plaintiff’s testimony, yelled at the judge, threatened the defendant’s lawyer, and routinely interrupted witnesses while they were speaking.
The court warned the defendant that he was obligated to maintain orderly conduct; however, despite multiple warnings, the defendant continued to interrupt the proceedings by shouting and causing a scene. At that point, the court decided that the defendant had lost his ability to represent himself, and it told the defendant that he could not return to trial until he had retained an attorney to represent him.
When the defendant lost the trial, he appealed, and one of his arguments was that he should have been allowed to represent himself without counsel present. The court of appeals agreed that normally, parties are able to appear in court without an attorney if they choose to do so. However, said the court, no fair trial could be conducted under the circumstances that the defendant created.
It was clear that the defendant intended to disrupt trial, and he blatantly violated the court’s rules of conduct. The lower court was correct in deciding that the defendant’s self-representation was getting in the way of the plaintiff’s right to access the court system. Thus, given these extreme circumstances, the lower court was within its rights to deny the defendant the right to appear in court without representation. The defendant’s appeal was denied.
Deciding On Your Representation in an Employment Discrimination Case
If you have faced sexual harassment at work in California, know that we at the Nourmand Law Firm are on your side. Through every phase of the process, we will stand by you so that you know what to expect, how to proceed, and how to present the strongest case possible moving forward. We understand that fighting employment discrimination cases can be a daunting process, but with our attorneys on your team, you will have everything you need. For a free, no-obligation consultation with a California employment law attorney, call us today at 310-553-3600.