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Paramount Communications v. Viacom, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    The Court of Appeals for the District of Delaware issued an addendum to address rude and uncivil conduct from attorneys who are not members of the Delaware bar and were not admitted pro hac vice. 

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    An attorney should avoid engaging in rude behavior and compose himself professionally when advocating for a client.

    Facts.

    During the trial between Paramount Communications (Paramount) and Viacom, Inc. (Viacom), Paramount’s director, J. Hugh Leditke (Leidtke), was deposed by Viacom. Paramount’s counsel remained uncivil during the deposition, directing Leidtke not to answer questions, complaining about the length of the deposition, and cursing. Neither Viacom’s attorney or the court sanctioned the behavior of Paramount’s legal counsel.

     

    Issue.

    Whether an attorney may engage in rude behavior when advocating for his client?

     

    Held.

    No. The addendum to this case was instituted as an exhibit that will not be tolerated in Delaware courts. If a Delaware lawyer were to exhibit similar behavior in Delaware courts, the lawyer would be subject to extensive sanctions among other consequences. 

    Discussion.

    Because Paramount’s attorney was not a member of the Florida bar, sanctions against Paramount’s legal counsel was outside the reach of Delaware courts. 


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