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Law Firm Says Judge Jailed Defense Attorney for Telling Client to Take the Fifth at His Arraignment

Posted Dec 6, 2011 5:53 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Updated: A Michigan criminal defense lawyer spent about four hours in jail on Friday after being held in contempt for telling a client to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at his arraignment.

Attorney Scott Millard, 29, who works for Miel & Carr, was supposed to be jailed until Monday. However, he was released Friday after Ottawa County Circuit Judge Edward Post issued an emergency stay of Hudsonville District Court Judge Kenneth Post's contempt order, according to the Grand Rapids Press and the Holland Sentinel.

The articles don't explain whether the two judges are related to each other.

Post apparently had sought information about the 20-year-old client's drug use to determine appropriate bond conditions. However, Millard reportedly told him not to answer, because he might incriminate himself.

Chief District Court Judge Brad Knoll told the newspaper such questions are appropriate for this purpose at an arraignment, and Judge Kenneth Post told the Grand Rapids paper he could not comment on a pending matter.

However, attorney Josh Blanchard, who also works for Miel & Carr and is representing Millard in the contempt matter, disagreed, calling the district court's procedures not compliant with the law.

Blanchard also said Millard had done nothing wrong, only "what the law expects of an attorney." He said Millard “remained calm despite the judge’s threats of jail. He behaved in a manner we’d expect.”

Millard is appealing the contempt ruling and has asked the circuit court to take oversight of his client's minor-in-possession case.

Subsequent ABAJournal.com posts provide additional details:

Transcript: Told to Sit Down, Be Quiet, Lawyer Blocked Judge's Drug Queries, Was Jailed for Contempt

Law Firm to Complain About Judge Who Jailed Attorney for Contempt for Blocking Client Drug Queries

Last updated Dec. 13 to link to subsequent ABAJournal.com post.

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