‘Don’t make me sound like an idiot’

A lawyer has been suspended and fined after disobeying a judge by telling her “don’t try to make me sound like an idiot”.

Jacqueline Vallejo was “rude and unprofessional” to the judge during a Crown Court trial, a disciplinary hearing said.

During the course of the trial, the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service heard that Ms Vallejo made numerous “disrespectful” comments in front of the jury and “unduly” argued with the judge, both addressing and interrupting her.

When warned about her behavior, Ms Vallejo told the hearing: “If Your Honor wants to do something about me and my behavior, that’s fine.”

“But I’d prefer you do it sooner rather than later.”

Ms Vallejo, who had been a barrister for almost 20 years at the time of the trial, has now been suspended for four months and fined £2,000 for her “disrespectful” tone.

The veteran lawyer was one of the specialist lawyers in the 2008 “Salsa Spy” case in which an army translator and salsa dance teacher who worked for the head of NATO forces in Afghanistan was found guilty of spying for Iran.

The hearing was told that Ms Vallejo was “abrupt, disrespectful” and had an “unhelpful tone, demeanor and approach” during the trial, which took place at Snaresbrook Crown Court in London between February and March 2016.

“I already explained it”

The problem first began when the criminal solicitor – from Garden Court Chambers, London, who was admitted to the bar in 1997 – refused to deal with prosecutors, the committee was told.

The hearing, held by the Council of Inns of Court, was told that this was despite orders from the judge.

At the time, she was warned by the judge about her behavior, adding that they didn’t want to delay or detract from the trial.

The problems continued in a similar fashion. When the judge asked her to clarify some evidence, she replied that she “already explained it,” the panel heard.

Ms Vallejo then called her the “learned judge” — instead of “Your Honor” — and made a joke that the judge was acting like a lawyer, since the lawyer often calls another “learned friend,” the panel heard.

She added that she felt “compelled” to take the prosecution’s case, the hearing was told.

On another occasion, Ms Vallejo struck an “unhelpful tone” when she told the judge, “I cannot force my client to make a statement of defense. What part of it doesn’t your honor understand?”

When the judge asked for clarification on the testimony of a witness, the panel heard Ms. Vallejo respond to the jury, “Well, if Your Honor will cross-examine, I will sit down.”

Also, when the judge told her to sit, she chided that it was the “fifth time Your Honor has asked me to sit,” and then told the judge that she didn’t need to be asked to accept put.

Ms Vallejo will have to pay the £2,000 next year after the panel concluded: “[She] has failed in her duty to the court in the administration of justice by being impolite and unprofessional.” ‘Don’t make me sound like an idiot’

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