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Lawyer learns that too much silence is not so golden

Rule 1 of courtroom procedure: Always defer to the judge.

Charles F. Pitarresi, a Niagara County assistant public defender, showed Monday he has taken that admonition to heart.

He was appearing before County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III on behalf of Rayna A. Kelly, who is charged with burglarizing the Marshalls store in the Town of Niagara.

After the court clerk called the case, Pitarresi conferred with his client for a couple of minutes about her desire to be screened for court-supervised drug treatment. Then he and the prosecutor, John N. Philipps, stood silently for a while before Murphy told them to begin the case.

"We called it several minutes ago," Murphy said.

"I didn't want to interrupt the court, Your Honor," Pitarresi said.

"Interrupt? I didn't say anything," the judge said.

"I didn't even want to interrupt your silence, Your Honor," Pitarresi said.

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