[A]lthough we do not condone Pori’s conduct where he improvidently overscheduled himself and then tried to pick and choose which cases he would try, the contempt judgment is void due to technical procedural noncompliance, and the imposition of sanctions . . . is not supported by the record.
Time conflicts are an unavoidable part of litigation. Scheduling and re-rescheduling trials and court hearings — it’s simply part of the litigation process. It’s a pain, but most of the time, an attorney shouldn’t get too much flak for a legitimate scheduling conflict.
But this week, one Bay Area criminal defense lawyer has gotten caught between a rock and two murder trials. A local judge was unhappy when he missed a hearing for one murder case because he was in court for another murder case of in another county. Now he’s facing contempt charges and jail time.
This is just another reason why we really should be investing more in teleportation technology….
Man, have things changed in Mississippi. Mississippi used to be a hotbed for rebellion against the Union, and now it’s putting lawyers in jail for refusing to pledge allegiance to the flag. That’s progress, baby! (Sorry, I just wanted to see what it would look like to write a paragraph portraying Mississippi as progressive about anything.)
Mississippi lawyer Danny Lampley was found in contempt of court and jailed for refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance in open court. According to multiple reports, Lampley stood for the pledge and was “respectful,” but did not recite the words. Chancellor Talmadge Littlejohn (what a name!) then specifically asked Lampley to recite the pledge, and when he refused, he was held in contempt.
An Oxford, Mississippi lawyer who once hired Lampley covered the story on his blog…
There are a lot of things you can do in New Orleans that you can’t do anywhere else. But cursing out a judge is apparently not one of them.
Ashton O’Dwyer has made a bit of a name for himself in the post-Katrina universe. A tipster provides some backstory on this former lawyer:
Ashton O’Dwyer has become a bit of a nuisance in Louisiana post Katrina. I am pretty sure that at one point, he actually seceded from the union in an attempt to get financial foreign aid following Katrina. He has been disbarred for abusive language and disrespect of the legal system. He does have several cases where he represents himself pro se.
Recently, Judge Ivan L. R. Lemelle (E.D. La.) held O’Dwyer in contempt of court for saying “screw you” and hanging up, at the conclusion of a status conference.
O’Dwyer fired off a (handwritten) response to the contempt order, defending his conduct:
[A]t the time he told Ivan L. R. Lemelle (as a man, not as a Judge): “screw you,” and hung up the telephone during the referenced status conference by telephone, the business of the Court had already been concluded.
Actually, that is not a terrible argument, if the court’s business was actually concluded before O’Dwyer made his remark.
But O’Dwyer doesn’t leave well enough alone. Did you know that both O’Dwyer and Lemelle are Judge Lemellle is black? That fact becomes important — at least in O’Dwyer’s mind.
More details after the jump.
This episode gives new meaning to the term “flip phone.” A cell phone that went off during court proceedings caused one judge to, well, flip out. From the NYT’s City Room blog:
The next time you pass through the city court system in Niagara Falls, N.Y., remember to turn your cellphone off.
Today, the Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended the removal of a judge in Niagara Falls City Court who had, what the commission’s chairman, Raoul L. Felder, called, “two hours of inexplicable madness” when a cellphone rang in his courtroom.
Specifically, on the morning of March 11, 2005, the judge, Robert M. Restaino, was presiding over a slate of domestic violence cases when he heard a phone ring in his courtroom. He told the roughly 70 people in the courtroom, according to the commission’s report, that “every single person is going to jail in this courtroom” unless the phone was turned over.
Look, we hate cellphones ringing at inappropriate times as much as the next guy. But was Judge Restaino’s reaction a tad over the top? We suggest — with respect, Your Honor — that you’re a few beeps short of a ringtone.
Read what happened next, after the jump.
A Bronx judge had a court clerk’s wife handcuffed and tossed in a cell for contempt – because she whispered “a**hole” after her husband was kept late at work, a state panel has charged.
Family Court Judge Marian Shelton screamed at the woman, “He’ll leave when he’s finished his work, not when you tell him!” before ordering court officers to take her to a holding cell for the weekend….
Pretty awesome. Should we be surprised to learn that Judge Shelton’s wedding was presided over by another colorful and cantankerous New Yorker, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani?
Interesting enough, Judge Shelton is being eyed for elevation — but not to an appellate court. Details after the jump.
We alluded to this briefly last week (item #3). But since a number of you have emailed us about it, let’s take a second look.
Judge John Plough, of Portage County, Ohio, is our hands-down Judge of the Day. From the Law & Justice Unit of ABC News:
Portage County Judge John Plough had assistant public defender Brian Jones arrested for contempt of court last week after Jones refused to begin a misdemeanor assault trial because he said he was unprepared. Jones was assigned to the case one day earlier….
Plough’s ruling prompted an outcry from defense lawyers, both in Ohio and across the country. Carmen Hernandez, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said in a statement that defense lawyers have an ethical obligation not to start trial if they are not prepared.
“Asking a lawyer to go to trial without preparation is like asking a doctor to perform surgery before diagnosing the patient,” she said.
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The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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