Jury Trial Put on Hold so Lawyer Can Attend Bris

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on December 01, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Mazel to New York attorney Bennett Epstein, on the birth of his grandchild. And why would the ever-patient readers of Legally Weird even care? Because the Manhattan lawyer had the chutzpah to ask U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood for some time off to celebrate. In the middle of a jury trial.

Yes, the elder Epstein wrote Judge Wood anticipating the birth of his grandchild on December 3, according The Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, Mr. Epstein is a gentleman of the old school (to put it kindly) and asked for time off only if the child was a boy. To quote his letter:

"Should the child be a girl, not much will happen in the way of public celebration. Some may even be disappointed, but will do their best to conceal this by saying, "as long as it's a healthy baby." ... However, should the baby be a boy, then hoo hah! Hordes of friends and family will arrive ... for the joyous celebration ... known as the bris. ... My presence at the bris is not strictly commanded, although my absence will never be forgotten by those that matter."

It is a major request to take time off during a trial as all, including judge, jury, witnesses, parties and counsel are inconvenienced and possibly prejudiced by the delay. In a criminal trial, you might even have a speedy trial objection from the defense.

However, Judge Wood, as The Journal notes, was not only gracious, she set the old boy straight by replying, "Mr. Epstein will be permitted to attend the bris, in the joyous event that a son is born. But the Court would like to balance the scales. If a daughter is born, there will be a public celebration in Court, with readings from poetry celebrating girls and women."

Mr. Epstein was suitably grateful and cognizant of the favor granted by the court. In response to Judge Wood's small lesson from the bench, he told The Journal, "Look, the [Orthodox] Jewish religion is sexist. It just is. But I didn't make the rules!"

The third Epstein grandchild was born on Monday, November 29th. It's a boy. Mr. Epstein has promised to bring photos to court.

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