Trials & Litigation

Lawyer fights $25K contempt fine, says it couldn't be imposed on Sunday

An lawyer for a former Little Rock police officer charged with manslaughter in the death of a 15-year-old boy is facing a $25,000 contempt-of-court fine after an Arkansas judge said the lawyer didn’t follow his instruction limiting what could be said about the records of two juveniles with the teen during the shooting.

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen said he had considered imposing a 40-day jail term on attorney Bill James but didn’t do so because that could have interfered with the retrial rights of his client, Josh Hastings, in the Pulaski County Circuit Court case, the Associated Press reports.

Hastings is accuse of shooting the teen to death while investigating car burglaries. He says the car was driving at him when he fired. Two teen occupants of the vehicle contended the car was stopped or stopping.

James says the judge should not have found him in contempt without first holding a hearing and also contends that state law prohibits a lawyer from being held in contempt on a Sunday, another Associated Press article reports. Court was in session Sunday as the jury deliberated in Hastings’ case before a mistrial was declared. A retrial is scheduled for September.

An earlier Associated Press article provides additional background about the criminal case against Hastings.

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