Trials & Litigation

Judge Slaps Lawyer with $3K Fine for Questioning Witnesses, Taking Photo in Defiance of Court Orders

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Saying that he had clearly ordered both sides not to bring up prior acts by witnesses while questioning them in front of the jury in a drunken-driving trial, a California judge Tuesday slapped defense attorney Darryl Genis with a $2,000 fine for asking questions of two police officers that suggested they had lied in the past.

Judge Brian Hill also penalized Genis another $1,000 for taking a photo of one officer during a break in the Santa Barbara Superior Court trial despite a court order that advance permission would be required to record audio or video, according to KEYT and the Santa Barbara Independent.

Genis must pay the $3,000 fine by July 3. He is appealing the sanction.

The attorney said he was trying to get claimed wrongdoing by the officers into the record with both his questioning and the photo. He told the judge he believed the officer he photographed was being coached as a witness by another officer at the time. However, the judge said the photo didn’t prove any coaching was taking place.

After he was fined at the Tuesday hearing, Genis sent an email to the Independent in which he complained that the judge “clearly has more interest in protecting [a police officer] from being publicly exposed as the documented liar she is than in protecting a citizen accused’s Constitutional 6th Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel,” the Independent reports.

Genis also said he had been “willing to put myself in harm’s way in civil disobedience” so that he could expose the claimed wrongdoing of the three police officers.

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