Lawyer Gets Justices' Names Wrong

ByABC News
December 11, 2000, 5:54 PM

Dec. 12 -- Arguing a case before the Supreme Court is a dream for many lawyers, a chance to shine before the nations 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 Klocks 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 didnt call one of them Justice Gore, Klock told Good Morning America today. And Im 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 courts justices, Stephen Breyer.

Im Justice Souter, came the reply from the bench. Youd 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, Im Scalia.

Klocks blunders appear puzzling, considering that he spoke before the court on Dec. 1, when the justices heard arguments concerning Republican candidate George W. Bushs 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 nations 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.