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Hot mic in courtroom captures expert calling judge an idiot


Virtual court proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic have seen their share of cyber errors. Participants appeared naked or with beer in hand, while a stray video filter turned a Texas lawyer into a cat in a Zoom hearing.

In Silicon Valley last month, an insurance expert gave the court an embarrassing mic moment.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Roberta Hayashi had jurors sit around her courtroom for social distancing, explaining that their jury number might be different from their seat.

It was then that a voice blurted out, “Oh my God, the judge is a ‘fucking idiot’.

The words echoed through the loudspeakers around the courtroom. Those present said everyone exchanged glances in search of the culprit.

Hayashi replied. “Well, I’m sorry you think I’m an idiot, but I really think you should mute your mic before you say that.” And I would appreciate it if you didn’t use any obscenity in the courtroom whether you were at a distance or not. This kind of language is not acceptable. “

“Okay,” replied the culprit, who would soon be revealed as Vincent San Filippo, a senior expert at Liberty Mutual, who was monitoring the case through the Microsoft Teams communications platform as part of the defense in the case.

The judge, however, was not made. “An apology to the court would be appropriate at this time.”

The insurance expert, however, continued to try to explain his outburst of profanity. “Yes. I just can’t keep up with your moves on these jurors,” he replied, according to a transcript of the trial.

The judge, who was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014, intervened: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you are instructed to ignore this exchange that has just taken place. It is not appropriate. You may not be able to take that into account in your consideration of this matter. “

She added that if someone couldn’t ignore the blasphemous exchange, she should declare the trial quashed.

After jurors left the courtroom, Hayashi said she couldn’t be sure who made the comment, but that it appeared to be coming from San Filippo’s microphone on a video link for the defendants.

“It was the microphone that came on when I heard someone call the judge a ‘fucking idiot’. So who was he?

“I’m sorry for the language,” San Filippo replied before trying to explain. But the judge wanted to know who he was. San Filippo explained that he was monitoring the file of one of the insurers.

“I made a totally inappropriate comment. And you shouldn’t penalize my insurer, my lawyer or anyone for it, ”he said. “I’m trying to figure out who the juror is and I can’t follow.”

San Filippo could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit that ended last week involved a serious car collision in May 2016 at a San Jose intersection that left some of those involved injured and in need of medical attention.

“My heart broke when I heard the vile comment from Mr. San Fillipo,” said attorney Shervin Lalezary, who ultimately secured a verdict of $ 714,000 for his client last week. “He embarrassed not only the judge, but all of us in the courtroom… We were all in shock and dismay.”

Hayashi, who spent 25 years as one of Silicon Valley’s leading labor lawyers, completed the session by addressing the expert again.

“Mr. San Filippo, your personal frustration is no excuse for inexcusably rude and disrespectful comments in open court in the presence of this jury,” she said. San Filippo, please make sure your microphone is turned off when following these procedures. “

So far, the judge and court have not commented on the incident.





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