Who would ever have thought that shaking someone's hand would be perceived as doing something horrible?

It was a common courtesy.

I walked into the courtroom.

My adversary was sitting at the defense table.

As I made my way through the courtroom to plaintiff's counsel table, I put my briefcase down and turned to my opponent.

I then took a few steps, extended my right hand and shook his outstretched hand.

I said “Good morning.”

I then turned and walked a few steps back to my table, while waiting for the judge to make his entrance.

I didn't know it at that moment, but my client was furious.

My client was angry.

My client could not believe I had the audacity to shake my opponent's hand.

My client thought I was in collusion with the defense lawyer.

My client thought I was going to throw his case.

My client believed that there was a conspiracy with the defense attorney to lose his case.

All because I shook my opponent's hand.

How outrageous.

I only learned about his outrage during a break in the trial testimony.

The moment I walked out of court, I could see the steam coming out of his ears and the top of his head as he approached me.

I couldn't understand what he was so riled up about.

“How dare you!” is how he started.

He thought we were all out to get him.

He thought I was in cahoots with the defense and the judge.

He was paranoid at this point.

I had to explain to have that shaking my adversary's hand was nothing more than a common courtesy and everyday ritual.

It meant nothing other than showing respect to my opponent.

That's all it meant.

I think it took about 15 minutes to convince him.

By the time we headed back into court to continue his trial, I think he calmed down a bit.

I couldn't dwell on it as I needed to pay attention to the next witness's testimony and focus on my cross examination.

To learn more, I invite you to watch the video below... 

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer