According to this report at Jezebel.com, an Illinois lawyer has filed a motion in limine seeking to prevent his opponent’s female “companion” from sitting with him during trial, apparently on the sole grounds that the woman’s breasts are so large that they are likely to distract the jury.
The report doesn’t provide the motion itself, but does quote it and also provides a copy of the response brief, which the writer says she got from the plaintiff’s counsel (the one accused of bringing the distracting companion). The motion states:
Defendant’s counsel is anecdotally familiar with the tactics and theatrics of Plaintiff’s counsel …. 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 whatever that this woman has any legal training whatsoever, and the sole purpose of her presence … is to draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings before this court ….
This argument is reminiscent of the “Motion to Compel Opponent to Wear Appropriate Shoes” filed in Florida in 2009 — there, the movant argued that his opponent was (anecdotally) known for wearing old worn-out shoes in an effort to get sympathy from the jury. (A mistrial was granted, not because of the shoes but because the jurors admitted they read about the motion in the paper.) Here, though, the motion (at least the quoted part) doesn’t argue that the woman is violating a dress code or is otherwise not dressed professionally. It’s apparently just about the boobs.
According to the plaintiff’s response brief, the woman is the lawyer’s paralegal, she is fully qualified, and “[d]efendant’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.'” (If she’s not an attorney, she might be barred for that reason, but the motion does not seem to have made this argument.) The response asks that the motion be denied, and that sanctions be granted.
Only limited information is available online. The case is real, and the docket does list three motions filed last week – one granted, one denied, and one apparently pending. Unfortunately, there are no details and the brief isn’t dated, so I can’t tell which is which, but my guess would certainly be that this motion was denied and the sanctions motion remains pending.
The fact that, according to the docket, the judge is a woman has nothing whatsoever to do with this guess on my part.