Virtual court proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic have seen their share of cyber blunders. Participants have appeared naked or with a beer in hand, while an errant video filter turned a Texas attorney into a cat during a Zoom hearing.
In the Silicon Valley last month, an insurance adjuster provided the court an embarrassing hot mic moment.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Roberta Hayashi was seating jurors around her courtroom for social distancing, explaining their juror number might be different than their seat number.
That’s when a voice blurted out, “Oh my God, the judge is a “f—ng idiot.”
The words echoed out of the speakers around the courtroom. Those present said everyone exchanged stares looking for the culprit.
Hayashi responded. “Well, I’m sorry you think I’m an idiot, but I really think you ought to mute your microphone before you say that. And I would appreciate it if you would not use any obscenities in the courtroom, whether you’re remote or not remote. That kind of language is not acceptable.”
“Agreed,” replied the culprit, who would soon be revealed as Vincent San Filippo, a senior adjuster with Liberty Mutual, who was watching the case through the Microsoft Teams communication platform as part of the defense in the case.
The judge, however, wasn’t done. “An apology to the Court would be appropriate about now.”
The insurance adjuster, however, continued to try to explain his profanity-laced outburst. “Yes. Just can’t keep track of your movements on these jurors,” he replied, according to a transcript of the trial proceeding.
The judge, who was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014, interjected, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you are instructed to disregard that interchange that just occurred. It is not appropriate. You may not consider it in your consideration of this case.”