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That San Francisco defense attorney Maureen Kallins clashed with a judge is not news. Nor is the fact that the courtroom sparks were an issue on appeal. What is interesting is a 9th Circuit judge’s theory as to why Kallins’ now-suspended legal career has been marked by so much strife: “anti-feminism.” “In particular, some in the legal profession may be more offended by aggressive and combative litigation tactics from a female attorney than from her male counterparts,” wrote 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Senior Judge Warren Ferguson, dissenting from a decision to let the conviction of Kallins’ former client stand. The mercurial lawyer clashed with retired U.S. District Judge William Orrick during Marcellus Elder’s trial, eventually being handcuffed in front of the jury by a U.S. marshal. After Kallins was led away — and still in front of the jury — Orrick compared her theatrics to “a bunch of children, screaming crying and yelling” and said that Kallins was “trashing the United States, and that doesn’t happen in my court.” The majority, Judges Michael Daly Hawkins and Harry Pregerson, declined to overturn Elder’s conviction, noting that Orrick instructed the jury to ignore the episode. “And, while in the cool light of day it might have made more sense for the court security personnel to have refrained from handcuffing counsel and for the district court to have used somewhat more temperate language, we decline to reward the kind of deliberately disruptive behavior engaged in here with the reversal of a conviction so clearly supported by the evidence,” Hawkins wrote in U.S. v. Elder, 02 C.D.O.S 4969. In a previous interview with The Recorder, Orrick explained that he has an overwhelming respect for courtroom decorum and procedure, and that is why he threw Kallins “in the bucket.” Nevertheless, women lawyers say Ferguson’s point is valid — up to a point. “Yes, there is something to it. It is certainly the case that some judges and some lawyers find it hard to handle a more aggressive woman,” said defense lawyer Cristina Arguedas of Cooper, Arguedas & Cassman in Emeryville, Calif. “But Maureen was so far over the top most of the time, I don’t think it’s a legitimate answer for her.” Kallins’ gender is less likely a reason for her 1998 jailing by U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the Northern District of California, who had a marshal escort the lawyer from the court after the two clashed about Kallins’ questioning of a government witness. More recently, Kallins was sentenced to a short jail term by Alameda County, Calif., Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner, a decision largely upheld in April by Senior Judge Thelton Henderson of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. That decision had Kallins considering a career change, according to her lawyer. She could not be reached for comment. Arguedas, who teaches at Boalt Hall School of Law at University of California, Berkeley, and has been known to be aggressive in court, said she doesn’t let bias stop her but that it’s evident — even, sometimes, in witnesses. “When I am most effective as a cross-examiner is when the witness starts answering me, ‘Yes, sir. No, sir.’ That’s when I know I’m winning,” she said.

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