A Chicago lawyer is being accused of sexism after requesting that a "large breasted woman" seated at the opposing counsel's table be moved as to not distract the jury.
Attorney Thomas Gooch, who is representing a Rolling Meadows car dealership in a small claims case, filed a motion last week asking Cook County Circuit Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers to order his opposing counsel's paralegal to sit in the gallery with other spectators, according to the Associated Press. Gooch claims that the woman sitting next to the plaintiff's lawyer has no legal experience and was placed there to "draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings."
MOTION IN LIMINE
(Presence of Plaintiff's Counsel's Companion at Counsel's Table at Trial).
Now Comes your Defendant, Exotic Motors, by and through their attorneys, Gauthier & Gooch, and as for their Motion as aforesaid states to the Court as follows:
1. That Defendant's counsel is anecdotally familiar with the tactics and theatrics of Plaintiff's counsel, [redacted]. Such behavior includes having a large breasted woman sit next to him at counsel's table during the course of the trial. There is no evidence whatsoever that this woman has any legal training whatsoever, and the sole purpose of her presence at Plaintiff's Counsel's table is to draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings before this court, obviously prejudicing the Defendant's in this or any other cause. Until it is shown that this woman has any sort of legal background, she should be required to sit in the gallery with the rest of the spectators and be barred from sitting at counsel's table during the course of this trial.
Dmitry N. Feofanov is representing a couple that purchased an automobile from Exotic Motors, and was told it was under warranty. When the vehicle broke "almost immediately" after purchase, the dealership allegedly would not repair it.
Feofanov told Jezebel the motion involving his paralegal, Daniella Atencia, was without merit:
Plantiffs' paralegal is clearly qualified for the work she performs before and during trials, and there is no reason to believe that her appearance at Plaintiffs' table will have any detrimental effect on Defendants' presentation of its case to a jury; and b) Defendant's motion does not cite any existing law or make any good-faith legal argument for the proposition that a woman may be barred from a counsel's table at a jury trial because she is "large breasted."
Gooch, who told the Chicago Sun-Times that he likes "large breasts," does not believe that Atencia is a paralegal and apparently has a problem with the way she dresses in the courtroom. Several law blogs--and Jezebel--have a problem with Gooch's motion.
The Above the Law blog said his motion was "dripping" with sexism.
"Why does she have to provide you with evidence of legal training? Isn't sitting there silently what most counsel do during a trial? Based on this motion, I'm thinking you are the one who should need to provide some kind of proof of legal knowledge," Above the Law's Elie Mystal wrote.
Jezebel called the motion the "strangest -- and possibly most sexist -- legal endeavors" they ever heard of.
The case goes to trial on June 2. View the filing here.