The bizarre scene unfolded in the courtroom of Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Gary Link, who was unimpressed at what he saw.
The doctor was first asked by an incredulous court clerk if he was actually in an operating room when he dialled in for his trial, according to the Sacramento Bee newspaper.
“I am, sir. Yes, I’m in an operating room right now. I’m available for trial. Go right ahead,” said the doctor as he continued to work.
“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?” asked the unamused court commissioner.
“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.”
Dr Green told him that another surgeon was carrying out the operation while he was on the call.
“I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s appropriate,” said Mr Link.
“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.”
That brought an apology from the medical professional.
“I apologise, your honour, to the court. Sometimes, surgery doesn’t always go as…”
The judge interrupted and said: “It happens. We want to keep people healthy, we want to keep them alive. That’s important.”
“I’m concerned about the welfare of the patient based on what I’m seeing,” said the commissioner.
A court commissioner in the Sacramento Superior Court system is appointed by a judge to carry out judicial functions as well as act as a temporary judge.
The case was rescheduled for March.
The Medical Board of California says it is now reviewing the incident.
“The Medical Board of California expects physicians to follow the standard of care when treating their patients,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“The Board is aware of this incident and will be looking into it, as it does with all complaints it receives.”
The Independent has reached out to Dr Green for comment.