Lawyer Gets Justices' Names Wrong

ByABC News

Dec. 12, 2000 -- Arguing a case before the Supreme Court is a dream for many lawyers, a chance to shine before the nation’s highest court. But it seems attorney Joseph Klock could use a little more polish.

Klock, representing Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, stumbled responding to questions during the Bush vs. Gore case Monday morning, twice referring to justices by the wrong name.

Click for audio of Klock’s blunders.

First, Klock surprised everyone in the courtroom by referring to Justice John Paul Stevens as “Justice Brennan,” apparently referring to Justice William Brennan, who retired from the Supreme Court in 1990 and died in 1997.

“I was so tired that I was happy I didn’t call one of them Justice Gore,” Klock told Good Morning America today. “And I’m not really very good with names.”

And after his first mix-up Monday, Klock referred to David Souter as “Justice Breyer,” referring to another of the court’s justices, Stephen Breyer.

“I’m Justice Souter,” came the reply from the bench. “You’d better give that up.”

Then Justice Antonin Scalia got into the act, drawing a roar of laughter from the gallery by beginning his next question, “Mr. Klock, I’m Scalia.”

Klock’s blunders appear puzzling, considering that he spoke before the court on Dec. 1, when the justices heard arguments concerning Republican candidate George W. Bush’s appeal of a Florida Supreme Court ruling allowing manual recounts to proceed in four Florida counties. The Democratic nominee, Al Gore, had requested the recounts.

Then again, the Florida-based attorney is not used to appearing in the nation’s highest court. The 51-year-old received his law degree from the University of Miami in 1973 and tends to work on corporate litigation cases, often representing the sugar industry and health insurers. Klock received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from LaSalle College in Philadelphia, in 1970. —

Another Curve Ball

Texas Gov. George W. Bush has seen his share of unexpected political developments in the last month, but Monday he had a surprise on the baseball front.

Aides to the GOP presidential nominee, who gained name recognition in his native state as an owner of the Texas Rangers, say Bush was surprised when he learned the Rangers were in the process of inking star shortstop Alex Rodriguez to a record-shattering 10-year, $252 million contract.

Why? Aides say Bush, the most visible member of the Rangers’ ownership group in the late 1980s and early 1990s, believes the team needs better pitching, instead of another slugger in the lineup. —ABCNEWS’ John Berman contributed to this report.

Back to Florida

George W. Bush is hopeful the impending U.S. Supreme Court ruling will put an end to the election, but a number of his top aides have flown back to Florida, in case it does not.

Campaign chairman Don Evans, Gov. Mark Racicot of Montana, policy aide Margaret Tutweiler, and lawyer Ben Ginsberg were all in Washington for today’s hearing in the nation’s high court.

But after the hearing wrapped up, they made a quick visit to Bush transition headquarters in McLean, Va., then headed back to Florida.

Still, Mindy Tucker, a spokeswoman for the Bush campaign, says the travel plans of Bush’s advisers do not mean they are pessimistic about the Supreme Court. Tucker pointed out the Florida Supreme Court has yet to indicate if it will hear appeals of lawsuits filed by Democratic voters concerning Seminole and Martin counties, and want to be in Florida in case those cases go against the Bush campaign. —ABCNEWS’ John Berman and Eileen McMenamin contributed to this report.

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