Legal Ethics

Arrested Lawyer: Judge Had Meltdown Over Motion to Dismiss

A New Jersey lawyer facing contempt proceedings says she was arrested and handcuffed simply because she appropriately defended her client in traffic court, raising a racial profiling defense.

At her client’s trial on Oct. 4, says Rashidah Hasan, she made a motion to dismiss after the prosecutor concluded his case. In response, Bloomfield Municipal Court Judge Joseph Connolly “went into a rage, pounding on the desk,” she says. He reportedly held her in contempt, and ordered her to pay a $100 fine at the next hearing in the case, reports New York Lawyer (reg. req.), reprinting a New Jersey Law Journal article.

At the subsequent Oct. 25 hearing, she asked the judge to withdraw the contempt citation, explaining that she couldn’t adequately represent her client if she could be held in contempt for doing so, according to the article. At that point, she says, Connolly not only declined to do so but held her in contempt again, imposing a $500 fine—and a 10-day jail term.

“I was hauled off to the basement of the building in handcuffs and placed on a bench in the basement in handcuffs,” she says. “I was fingerprinted and photographed. I was humiliated, disrespected and very emotionally upset by this whole incident. Imagine the fear and horror this incident must have on litigants before the court if their counsel is treated this way.”

Meanwhile, Hasan now is not the only one whose conduct in the case is at issue. She has reportedly filed an ethics complaint concerning Connolly with the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.

Connolly declines to comment, the article says, because the contempt case is pending.

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