In 'Bart Simpson-esque' punishment, lawyer is ordered to pledge compliance with ethics rules in legible handwriting
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A Cleveland-area lawyer had to show his contrition with a $500 fine and a written mea culpa as a result of a judge’s order last week.
Cleveland.com describes the contempt sanction for lawyer Anthony Baker of Lorain, Ohio, as a “Bart Simpson-esque dose of punishment,” imposed for leaving the defense table as a protest during jury instructions.
On Thursday, Judge Nancy Fuerst ordered Baker to write 25 times, in legible handwriting, that he will not engage in conduct that violates ethics rules.
More specifically, Baker had to write:
• I will not engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice or in any other conduct that adversely reflects on my fitness to practice law.
• I shall not engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal or engage in undignified or discourteous conduct that is degrading to a tribunal.
Fuerst found Baker in contempt for his conduct on the last day of an assault trial for his client, a former police officer accused of attacking his wife. Baker had contended that the officer acted in self-defense.
Baker left the defense table during jury instructions because he objected to Fuerst’s refusal to instruct jurors on Ohio’s self-defense laws.
Fuerst said Baker had thrown a tantrum and said he had acted unprofessionally several times during the trial, according to Cleveland.com.
Baker told Cleveland.com that he had expected a jail sentence. “I was totally wrong in how I protested. I don’t think I was wrong in what I was fighting for,” he said.
Baker represented former East Cleveland police officer Denayne Davidson-Dixon, whose attack broke three bones in his wife’s face. Jurors found him guilty of aggravated assault and domestic violence.
The officer had previously served about 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to the attempted felonious assault of an arrestee in a case featured on the Serial podcast’s third season.