I'm posting here the record of the Tribute to Judge Karlton held at the Sacramento federal courthouse on September 26, 2014, with remarks from Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Chief EDCA Judge Morrison C. England, Jr., EDCA District Judge William B. Shubb, California Court of Appeal Associate Justice Coleman A. Blease, Northern District Judge Thelton E. Henderson, EDCA Magistrate Judge Allison Claire, as well as Judge Karlton himself.
I invite readers to add their own thoughts or stories in the comment section or by emailing me directly. I'll start with one of my own stories.
Many years ago, I defended at trial before Judge Karlton a chiropractor accused of tax crimes. At one point, I objected to testimony by a government witness. After excusing the jury, Judge Karlton chastised me for not objecting sooner. He ruled that my objection was late -- the evidence was already in through earlier testimony. Although I disagreed, I was more upset that he criticized me in the presence of my client, who now believed he had an incompetent attorney whose failure had allowed in prejudicial testimony.
When we went in to the judge's chambers later in the trial to discuss another issue, I said that, while I appreciated the judge's comments, his criticism had hurt my attorney-client relationship. He responded, "I know, attorneys have been telling me that for 20 years, but I just can't help myself sometimes." He then told me that I had been correct -- he now realized why I had not objected earlier.
When trial resumed, I cross-examined the government's case agent about her analysis of my client's accounts, a critical issue. I was convinced that I had found errors in her work that would discredit her. But when I first confronted her, she had a good explanation and I realized I had been mistaken. I became frustrated and she became emboldened, sidestepping my questions, offering her own jabs. As I felt my control slipping away, Judge Karlton interrupted and scolded her: "These are straight-forward questions. Just answer the questions!" He repeated his admonition whenever she wavered. The witness finally gave me straight answers, admitting several mistakes in her analysis.
I view Judge Karlton's reaction as akin to the umpire who, after making a bad call against you, makes another in your favor to balance the scales. A kind of rough justice, which ended well when the jury acquitted my client.