Legal Ethics

Judge Orders Lawyer to Jail for ‘Atrocious’ Behavior During Jury Selection

A Boston criminal defense lawyer has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for an outburst during jury selection that a judge ranked as the worst he’s seen in 20 years on the bench.

Before he was sentenced, lawyer Barry Wilson said he didn’t think his conduct was egregious, the Boston Globe reports. Judge Patrick Brady of Suffolk Superior Court disagreed, saying the lawyer’s actions were “atrocious” and finding him in contempt of court.

Wilson had objected to the judge’s decision to seat a juror with a law enforcement background to hear a murder case. Brady summarized Wilson’s conduct in a four-page finding.

“Mr. Wilson lost his temper at a ruling of the court and delivered a loud, abusive, insulting, and disruptive outburst in defiance of the court ruling,” Brady wrote. “At least in part the outburst was likely motivated by a desire to force the court to excuse the juror because Mr. Wilson’s screaming was so loud the juror may have heard him and concluded that Mr. Wilson ‘did not like him.’ Needless to say, the court cannot tolerate such behavior.”

Wilson was jailed once before for contempt, in 1985, after refusing to testify before a grand jury about a former client suspected of drug smuggling, the story says. Other judges have also threatened him with contempt, “more times than you can shake a stick at,” Wilson told the Globe.

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