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.
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.