Loose lips sink ships

April 2007
By Judge John Wittmayer, Multnomah County Circuit Court

As the years pass, fewer and fewer of us have heard this common warning from the World War II era. It means to be careful what you say and where you say it, because you never know who might inadvertently overhear your words.

This same warning is appropriate for lawyers, their clients and witnesses in and around the courthouse, especially in the elevators and the hallways. Judges, jurors and other lawyers' clients and witnesses are everywhere. You do not want others who might have an adverse impact on your case to overhear things.

Lawyers should remember to warn their clients and witnesses to not discuss anything about the case without you present, and you should be aware of who might overhear any such conversations in and around the courthouse.