There is no dillydallying in the trial of Paul Manafort.
Jury selection lasted but a few hours. The federal judge presiding over the case has repeatedly reminded the lawyers of his impatience and routinely interrupts their questioning of witnesses to speed them up. The most dramatic part of the trial has quickly come and gone. The whole thing could be over in three weeks, leaving plenty of time before Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman has to stand a second trial on separate charges in September.
High-profile trials of deep-pocketed defendants can often drag on for months. But Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s initial prosecution of Manafort on charges of financial fraud is moving briskly along, and its speedy pace is largely due to the particular federal district court where the case is being tried.
The Eastern District of Virginia is famous in the legal community for being the nation’s original “rocket docket”—a jurisdiction where strict rules and a deeply embedded judicial culture help move cases to trial more rapidly than almost anywhere else. In civil cases, the court has been ranked first for speed year after year, but the reputation extends to criminal prosecutions as well.
Here's a more reasonable judge (in Houston) who now has a standard order granting automatic stays where one of the lawyers is pregnant:
Pregnant litigators already have enough to worry about without trial dates getting in the way of due dates.
So Houston state district Judge Ravi Sandill recently issued a standing order that grants expecting lawyers an automatic continuance of a trial setting in his court for up to 120 days before the birth or adoption of a child.
“We did it for a couple of reasons,” said Sandill, judge of Harris County’s 127th District Court. “For one, it’s the right thing to do. And secondly — I think most judges do this already — but it alleviates anxiety for lawyers.”
Sandill said he came up with the idea after reading about Christen E. Luikart, a pregnant Florida lawyer whose motion for continuance sparked controversy last month after her opposing counsel objected to it — just as the Florida Supreme Court is weighing a proposed rule that would create a presumption that pregnant lawyers should get three-month continuances.
“After reading about that, I thought if we could push this, leading by example is not a bad thing for the practice,’’ Sandill said of his order.