Mosquito Won’t Stop Buzzing in Court’s Ear

Mosquito Won’t Stop Buzzing in Court’s Ear
Chris Bray
MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2012

Two weeks ago, Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Healy Smith had a very bad day in court during oral argument before a panel of judges from the First Circuit. Today, amazingly, she’s going for a do-over, filing a letter with the court to challenge arguments made by Eamonn Dornan, the exceptionally sharp lawyer who argued the Belfast Project appeal for Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney. More in a moment, but here’s the letter:

Healy Letter




The remarkable thing is that Barbara Healy Smith spoke after Eamonn Dornan in court. She had an opportunity to challenge or rebut anything he told the judges. Having failed to do that, she now in effect comes padding back into the courtroom two weeks later, holds up a finger, and says, “And another thing….”

Lawyers, is this sort of thing common? Is it regarded as ethical? At the very least, it seems sniveling and unprofessional.

ADDED LATER:

And then there’s the remarkable content of the letter: “The government would be happy to provide additional information on this issue should the Court wish — although such information would be outside the record of the case.”

How on earth could the government possibly “provide additional information” to a court on an issue raised during oral argument about a case that the court is considering, but insist that “such information would be outside the record of this case,” without appearing to suggest that they wish to have a private discussion with the judges who have decision making authority in their cause?

ADDED LATER:

In response to an email message, Eamonn Dornan describes the government’s letter to the court as “inappropriate” and “highly unusual.”