Judge is suspended for jailing lawyer who advised his client to plead the 5th
By Debra Cassens Weiss
May 2, 2013, 07:09 am CDT
A Michigan judge will be suspended for 30 days for jailing a lawyer who asserted his client's Fifth Amendment rights when the judge asked questions about past drug use.
Judge Kenneth Post of Hudsonville will begin the unpaid suspension on May 22, report the Grand Rapids Press, the Associated Press and WoodTV.com. The Michigan Supreme Court said in a ruling on Wednesday that Post had a "failure to be aware that the judicial system is for the benefit of the litigant and the public, not the judiciary." Post also had a "failure to avoid a controversial manner or tone in addressing counsel,” according to the opinion.
Post found Scott Millard in contempt in a December 2011 bond hearing for the lawyer’s client. A transcript showed this exchange as Millard asserted his client was protected by the Fifth Amendment:
JUDGE POST: "I'm not interested in what you think. Haven't you gotten that yet?"
MILLARD: "I have gotten that, and I...understand that, and your honor, the court fully, certainly has the right to not care what I say. How—"
JUDGE POST: "Thank you. Then be quiet."
Post then begins to question Millard’s client, spurring another objection from the lawyer. Post first fined Millard $100 for contempt, then ordered him to jail. The lawyer was released hours later by another judge’s order.