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Legal Ethics

Reading Men’s Magazine in Court Costs Attorney $300

Posted Jan 25, 2008 1:57 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A North Carolina judge held an attorney in contempt this week after spotting him reading a copy of Maxim that featured a scantily clad Heidi Montag (headlined as "The Hills' Hottest Bad Girl") on the cover.

Although attorney Todd Paris protested that the men's magazine is not pornography and that it was his girlfriend who subscribed to it, Rowan County District Judge Kevin Eddinger was not persuaded that it constituted appropriate courtroom reading. He found Paris in contempt for displaying offensive material in court, giving him a 15-day suspended jail sentence and fining him $300, reports the Salisbury Post.

"The contemnor's conduct interrupted the proceedings of the court and impaired the respect due its authority. In addition, the contemnor's actions were grossly inappropriate, patently offensive, and violative of Rule 12 of the General Rules of Practice," Eddinger wrote in his order. "Courtroom staff, law enforcement, members of the Bar and the general public shall be able to conduct courtroom business in an atmosphere free of the display of offensive material as demonstrated by the contemnor, thus necessitating this action."

The magazine apparently was confiscated and labeled as Exhibit A in the contempt case. A photo of the Maxim cover is provided as part of a TMZ account of the incident.

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