Posted May 28, 2010 08:28 pm CDT
A Florida appellate panel found a lower court didn’t abuse its discretion when it held a defense lawyer in criminal contempt after contacting a juror excused for a medical reason.
Wednesday’s opinion upheld the sentence of five months and 29 days in jail for Richard Keith Alan II, an attorney in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Alan represented a Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity member accused—with another fraternity member—of beating a pledge to the point that he had to be hospitalized, the National Law Journal reported in a story published in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).
Circuit Judge Kathleen Dekker excused the juror in question at that trial. She then denied a subsequent request, which Dekker called “nothing short of outrageous,” from Alan for the juror’s medical records.” After his client was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison, Alan moved for a new trial and filed a notice of intent to interview jurors. At this point, without permission, Alan called the juror in question, telling her he had permission to see her medical records, the National Law Journal reported.
Alan did not return telephone calls from the National Law Journal seeking comment. The incredulous juror notified the court, and Dekker charged Alan over the actions. She also noted that Alan was more than an hour late to the first day of trial.