Illinois Lawyer Objects to Buxom Woman at Trial Table

A Chicago lawyer says his opponent in a small claims case is using an unfair tactic by sitting a buxom woman next to him at counsel's table.

CHICAGO -- A Chicago lawyer says his opponent in a small claims case is using an unfair tactic by sitting a buxom woman next to him at counsel's table.

Attorney Thomas Gooch says the woman's sole purpose "is to draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings" -- a dispute over a used car. He asks Cook County Circuit Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers to order the woman to sit in the gallery with other spectators.

In responding to the pretrial motion, attorney Dmitry N. Feofanov said the woman is his paralegal assistant and contends Gooch cites no "good faith legal argument" why she can't sit at counsel's table. Feofanov, who in the past has described himself as a "consumer protection lawyer," asked Rivkin-Carothers to impose sanctions on Gooch for his motion.

Gooch told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin he wasn't objecting to the woman because she is buxom, but because he doesn't think she is a paralegal.

"Personally, I like large breasts," he said. "However, I object to somebody I don't think is a qualified paralegal sitting at the counsel table -- when there's already two lawyers there -- dressed in such a fashion as to call attention to herself."

Gooch said he and Feofanov have faced off in mandatory arbitration. At the time, he objected to the woman sitting at the counsel table and arbitrators asked her to leave, he said.

Feofanov said he "didn't believe it is professional to try a case in the press." However, he turned over public documents on the case to the Daily Law Bulletin.

According to Feofanov, the paralegal, who the Law Bulletin says is identified in documents as Daniella Atencia, has been paid as a paralegal in two court orders by Cook County judges. Both times, the rate for the paralegal was $115 an hour.

"That's not a qualification," Gooch said. "That means Dmitry handed up a bill to a judge that said paralegal on it. I don't believe it's a legitimate thing. It's a sham."

The case, Song and Maria Sayavongsa v. Exotic Motors Inc., is scheduled for trial June 2.

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