Posted Dec 07, 2011 11:34 pm CST
Updated: A transcript has been published of a Dec. 1 arraignment at which a Michigan attorney prevented his client from answering a judge’s questions about drug use and was jailed for contempt. It shows a young attorney politely sticking to his position as he is repeatedly and abruptly told to sit down and be quiet and met with sarcastic replies by the judge as he tries to establish his role as counsel and protect his client’s rights.
“I’m his attorney, your honor,” Scott Millard, 29, told Hudsonville District Court Judge Kenneth Post at one point in the contentious hearing, according to a partial transcript published by the local television station WOOD.
“I’m glad,” the judge responded.
Although the judge said he wasn’t seeking the information to charge Millard’s client with a crime, only to set bond, Millard apparently felt (he wasn’t allowed to explain his reasoning to the court in full) that it still wouldn’t be in the client’s interest to answer the judge’s questions and provide such information.
Later on, the following exchange took place, as Millard tried to rely on the Fifth Amendment to shield his client from the judge’s questions:
JUDGE: “I’m not interested in what you think. Haven’t you gotten that yet?”
MILLARD: “I have gotten that, and I…understand that, and your honor, the court fully, certainly has the right to not care what I say. How—”
JUDGE: “Thank you. Then be quiet.”
Going on to speak directly to Millard’s client, the judge then says: “When was the last time that you, the date that you last used controlled substances, sir?” Millard interrupts to prevent his client from answering, which sets off further fireworks:
JUDGE: “One more word, and I’m going to hold you in contempt.”
As Millard continues to represent his client, the judge cites him for contempt and fines him $100. Then, a short time later, he lowers the boom:
JUDGE: “Counsel, I’m holding you in contempt of court. Remand him to the jail.”
Millard was released from jail about four hours later, after another court issued an emergency stay of Post’s contempt order.
ABAJournal.com: “Law Firm Says Judge Jailed Defense Attorney for Telling Client to Take the Fifth at His Arraignment”
ABAJournal.com: “Law Firm to Complain About Judge Who Jailed Attorney for Contempt for Blocking Client Drug Queries”
Updated Dec. 13 to include link to subsequent coverage.