Trials & Litigation

Top NH Court Nixes $100 Fine; Lawyer Scheduled in 2 Courts at the Same Time Did the Best He Could

Fined $100 for failing to appear at a pretrial hearing in one county because he was attending a pretrial hearing in another county, a New Hampshire criminal defense lawyer appealed the sanction.

Today, finding that Stuart Dedopoulos had made timely and diligent efforts to obtain the court’s permission to reschedule and had worked cooperatively with opposing counsel to resolve the situation, the state’s top court nixed the fine. “Under the circumstances of this case,” the New Harmpshire Supreme Court said in a written opinion (PDF), finding Dedopoulos was “an unsustainable exercise of discretion.”

According to the lawyer’s filings, Dedopoulos moved to continue the pretrial conference, twice called the court to inform it of the conflict and see if a ruling had been made and conferred with the prosecutor in the case, who said he would explain the situation to the judge and agreed to a scheduling plan to present to the court.

In an amicus brief, the New Hampshire Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers also argued that making motions about scheduling conflicts far in advance of the court dates is not encouraged by most trial courts, because “the burden of processing these motions would … be unwieldy and conflicts oftentimes dissipate before the time of hearing.”

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.

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