The pandemic caused a major shift in how many people work with many workplaces going virtual. Legal services and court hearings are no exception. Only weeks after a lawyer appeared in virtual court as a cat, a plastic surgeon appeared in traffic court from an operating room.
The flabbergasting exchange happened on Thursday, Associated Press reports. Dr. Scott Green made an appearance in Sacramento Superior court for a traffic violation. But I bet nobody expected the doctor to show up in the middle of performing a surgery.
Everyone seemed a bit surprised and the courtroom’s clerk asked Dr. Green if he was actually available for his hearing. From AP:
“Hello, Mr. Green? Hi. Are you available for trial?” asked a courtroom clerk as an officer summoned to appear in trial raised her eyebrows. “It kind of looks like you’re in an operating room right now?”
“I am, sir,” Green replied. “Yes, I’m in an operating room right now. Yes, I’m available for trial. Go right ahead.”
The clerk then reminded the doctor that the court hearing was being livestreamed to the public. Traffic trials are required to be open to the public by law. The Sacramento Superior Court posts court livestreams on YouTube as a workaround due to court being held virtually.
Some activity continued in the operating room while the court waited for the judge to appear. When Court Commissioner Gary Link joined the session he didn’t seem too pleased with what he saw on his screen. From the Sacramento Bee:
“So unless I’m mistaken, I’m seeing a defendant that’s in the middle of an operating room appearing to be actively engaged in providing services to a patient. Is that correct, Mr. Green? Or should I say Dr. Green?” Link asked over the sounds of suction and the beep-beep of medical devices.
“I do not feel comfortable for the welfare of a patient if you’re in the process of operating that I would put on a trial notwithstanding the fact the officer is here today,” the commissioner said.
Dr. Green tried to argue that all was well since he had another surgeon to help him out, but Commissioner Link wasn’t convinced:
“I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s appropriate,” Link said. “I’m going to come up with a different date — when you’re not actively involved or participating and attending to the needs of a patient. Let me see if I can get a different date here.”
Dr. Green tried to apologize but was cut off by Commissioner Link, who stressed the importance of keeping a patient alive. Traffic court definitely rates a bit lower on a list of priorities than keeping someone alive. Sky News Australia caught some of the action in a report:
The Medical Board of California says it’s looking into this unsettling exchange. It notes that it “expects physicians to follow the standard of care when treating their patients.”
Virtual court hearings have led to some wacky results. The Washington Post reports that some hearings were interrupted by toilet flushes, someone getting their hair cut at a barber shop and yep, a lawyer that didn’t know how to turn off a cat filter.