Lawyer fights confusion

By Globe Staff and Wires, 12/12/2000

At one point in yesterday's proceedings, the court erupted in laughter as Joseph Klock, attorney for the Florida secretary of state, twice slipped in referring to justices by name. In the first instance he addressed Justice John Paul Stevens, the oldest member of the court and a member of its liberal bloc, as ''Justice Brennan.'' Justice William J. Brennan Jr., one of the court's most prominent liberals, retired in 1990 and died in 1997.

STEVENS: What standard would you usein the situation I proposed then?

KLOCK: Justice Brennan, the difficulty is that under - I'm sorry.


That's why they tell you not to do that. ...

KLOCK: What I'm saying is ...

SOUTER: They have to throw their hands up.

KLOCK: No, Justice Breyer. What I'm saying is ...

SOUTER: I'm Justice Souter. You've got to cut that out.


KLOCK: I will now give up. What I'm saying, sir, is this: that you cannot be in a situation of using the word ''interpret'' to explain anything that a court does. The word ''interpret'' cannot carry that much baggage.

SCALIA: Mr. Klock? I'm Scalia.


KLOCK: Yes, sir?

I'll remember that.

SCALIA: Correct me if I'm wrong ...

KLOCK: It will be hard to forget.