There is a thin line between civility and inappropriate “buddying up.” If you need proof, simply ask general district court judges in Virginia Beach. Said judges have warned attorneys that they need to stop patting traffic cops on the back while in court.
“It is a little blip,” said chief judge Gene Woolard, noting that he most likely did it as well during his time as a defense attorney.
According to judges, they notice a few months ago that some lawyers had been getting too friendly with police officers while in traffic court. They said that an attorney patting an officer on the back during court may leave some with the wrong idea.
Woolard noted that “It is not necessarily the reality, but the impression.”
According to a report in the August newsletter of the Virginia Beach Bar Association, several “high volume” police officers noted that they were “uncomfortable” with the recognition.
The issue was one of several that judges discussed with a Virginia Beach Bar committee during the summer. Judges also noted that telling them that a client is a relative, staff member of their firm, spouse, or neighbor could be seen as a plea for favoritism and asked that it also be stopped.
Woolard acknowledged that people know each other, but those in the audience could get an impression of the existence of a “good-ole-boy” network.
Attorneys have been policing themselves and it was not required that judges issue and order for formality. Woolard noted that the issue was resolved “peacefully.”