Criminal Justice

Judge fines lawyer $4K for late courthouse arrival, unmoved by claim of bad cellphone reception

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Bars showing low cell phone reception

A murder trial was supposed to start Tuesday at 9 a.m. for Demarcus Veasey, who is accused of gunning down another young man early this year in Monticello, Arkansas.

But when defense attorney Jim Morris arrived at 9:08 a.m., explaining that he’d had to take his daughter to camp in Little Rock and couldn’t reach the court by phone due to cellphone reception issues, the case was already concluded for the day, reports Monticello Live.

10th Judicial Circuit Judge Bynum Gibson, who had asked counsel for both sides to be present at 8:30 a.m. for a discussion of motions, had already dismissed the jury after a roll call by the time Morris got to court.

The judge held Morris in contempt and said he had considered jailing the attorney for 24 hours, as well as fining him. However, Gibson decided simply to fine Morris—requiring him to pay $4,000 to the court clerk, reflecting at least in part the cost of compensating 60 to 70 prospective jurors and witnesses in the murder case.

Morris argued that the hefty sanction would put him “upside down” on the case, to no avail.

“I’ve had defendants not show up, but never had attorneys show up after 9 o’clock,” Gibson said. “It’s killed 3 days of court time.”

The murder trial has been rescheduled for July.

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