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 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 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.
“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.
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.