The trials of Nancy Raynor, cont’d

Following up on our earlier reports here and here: a Pennsylvania appellate court “has temporarily halted the imposition of a $1 million fine against Philadelphia attorney Nancy Raynor, who received the sanction after one of her witnesses during a medical malpractice trial disclosed information that had been ruled inadmissible by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paul Panepinto.” [Penn Record] The judge “has defended his action in an opinion in which he accused Raynor of violating a court order as part of a trial strategy.” [Chris Mondics, Philadelphia Inquirer] Three witnesses — the most recent a trial technician who testified at a March 4 hearing — have now backed up Raynor’s account of not having sought to elicit the reference to a plaintiff’s smoking habit, which the judge had barred. “In addition to [Joseph] Chapman, two other witnesses, an emergency room doctor who is a client of Raynor’s and an insurance adjuster, have testified that they heard Raynor advising [Dr. John] Kelly that smoking testimony was precluded.” [Mondics/Inquirer, March 6, follow-up]

One Comment

  • From a layman’s perspective this is interesting. How much can a lawyer be held accountable for things said by witnesses?

    I understand the need for the court to maintain rulings of admissibility. I understand the judge’s frustration, perhaps anger. But, how does a lawyer control a stupid or rogue witness’s testimony?

    It does seem a gray area. Can anyone truly be sanctioned for the speech of another? Of course the matter of how the witness was prepped by counsel comes in here. But absent a recording, Isn’t this just a he said/she said situation? In a certain sense, the three witnesses are acting as the jury of the lawyer in this case. There are three of them, and they hold the lawyers fate in their hands.