Legal Ethics

Appeals Court Overturns Contempt Order Against Overscheduled Lawyer

A California appeals court has overturned a judge’s order sending a lawyer to jail for being unprepared for a murder trial.

The appeals court overturned the contempt order against Tim Pori because of procedural errors by the trial judge in Alameda County, report the San Francisco Chronicle and the Vacaville Reporter.

The Alameda County judge had sentenced Pori to five days in jail and fined him $2,500. She acted after Pori said he wasn’t ready for trial because he was focusing on a Solano County murder case in which the defendant refused to waive speedy trial rights.

“Although 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overscheduled himself and then tried to pick and choose which cases he would try,” the appeals court said in its unpublished opinion (PDF), “the contempt judgment is void due to technical procedural noncompliance.”

The judge’s written contempt order should have described how a previous order was violated, and what the previous order directed to be done, the court said.

Pori’s Solano County client was acquitted of murder and convicted on a lesser charge, the Chronicle says.

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