Courts: Call Me Mister

A twice-convicted thief named Richard Armstead took the stand before U.S. District Judge Alexander Holtzoff in Washington, D.C., to deny the latest robbery charge against him. Bring out his criminal record, snapped the judge. "Mr. Armstead," the prosecutor dutifully began. But Judge Holtzoff, who is 78 and has been on the bench 20 years, interrupted in a manner unexpected in the scrupulously courteous federal courts. "Don't address defendants as Mister," he said. "Witnesses and counsel should be addressed as Mr. or Mrs. or Miss, as the case may be, but not the defendant."

The evidence was so solid that Armstead's...

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