East Texas Lawyer's Anti-Semitic Jokes Cost Cisco $60 Million

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In This Court, You Can't Say That
Otis Carroll of Ireland, Carroll & Kelley is an attorney in Tyler, Texas, where the vaunted rocket-docket patent litigation district court sits (a/k/a as the "Eastern District of Texas," at least one of its "divisions"). Carroll was retained as "local counsel" by Cisco in a piece of patent litigation when it was sued by an Israeli company, Commil.

In East Texas, you don't want some slick Coastie lawyer in front of your jury, you want a local attorney who can connect with the locals. And that's what Carroll endeavored to do, in his own East Texas way:

While being cross-examined, Mr. David (the Commil inventor and co-owner) mentioned eating at a barbeque restaurant to which [Carroll] responded "I bet not pork." [Carroll] then went-on to ask Mr. David whether his cousin was a "bottom-feeder who swims around on the bottom buying people's houses that they got kicked out of for next to nothing.

In closing arguments, [Carroll] began with a reference of the trial of Jesus - saying "You remember the most important trial in history, which we all read about as kids, in the Bible had that very question from the judge. What is truth?"

You can't say those things.

But it gets even worse. In this, the first jury trial, tainted by the anti-Semitic remarks, the East Texas jury only awarded the Israeli firm $3.7 million dollars in damages. But a new trial was ordered because Carroll thought "pork/Jewish" jokes were funny (they're not). On re-trial, the jury awarded Commil $63.7 million in damages.

Carroll may not believe in Yahweh, but I bet he now believes in karma.

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3 comments
mrapaport
mrapaport

Otis Carroll's conduct in the Cisco trial was, in all likelihood, the most blatant example of anti-Semitism in a judicial proceeding in recent memory.  However, it is not the only example. For more information/discussion of how anti-Semitism is sometimes used as a litigation tactic, read more at http://www.rapaportlaw.com/blog/lawyers-who-resort-to-anti-semitism-as-a-litigation-tactic-the-lesson-of-otis-carroll/

I agree with the article: Carroll definitely learned a valuable lesson - but at great cost to his reputation and to his client.  I doubt that he has changed his views of Jews very much.  However, I bet he is more cautious in court now.  He will now, forever, be known more for his anti-Semitism than his courtroom skills.

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