Why a seasoned lawyer might disrespect the judge in a multibillion dollar patent trial
FORTUNE — Even a veteran court reporter like Alison Frankel was surprised when Samsung’s lead attorney, John Quinn, approached judge Lucy Koh just before opening arguments in the high-stakes Apple v. Samsung patent infringement trial and threw the legal equivalent of a hissy fit in a last-ditch effort to get some excluded evidence (see here and here) before the jury.
Here’s how Frankel described the scene in her On the Case column:
Savvy trial watchers will recognize that Quinn was setting ground work for an appeal. That’s what Koh was referring to when she told him “you’ve made your record.”
But what happened next suggests Quinn may be playing an even more devious game. Two hours later, he e-mailed the excluded evidence to several journalists covering the case, along with a paragraph of inflammatory rhetoric that, inevitably, got widely reported:
Dissing a judge behind her back in a manner that’s sure to get back to her might be considered a rookie move. But Quinn, the managing partner of the powerhouse litigation shop Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, is no rookie. His e-mail provoked Apple AAPL to call for extraordinary sanctions (basically, they want Judge Koh to hand them the case). To which Quinn filed a rebuttal that began:
“An affront to the integrity of the jury”? Really?
The evidence Quinn planted in the press is beginning to look like an Internet honey trap. Here’s how it works: Some or all of the jury sees it, the judge finds out, and Samsung gets a mistrial in a case that was not exactly going its way.
We’ll find out if the trap was sprung when proceedings resume Friday morning in San Jose.