Criminal Justice

Prosecutor challenges judge to carry through on her contempt threat, is ordered into custody

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A Philadelphia prosecutor spent about an hour in a courthouse holding area on Wednesday after he challenged a judge to “carry through on your threat” to hold him in contempt.

Judge Karen Simmons acquiesced, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. She ordered the removal of Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax from the courtroom and set bail at $5,000. After Sax’s supervisors arrived, Simmons allowed Sax to sign his own bond.

Sax’s troubles began during a preliminary hearing for homicide defendant Lamont Davis. Sax called his first witness, Lamont Miller, believing the witness would testify that Davis admitted the crime to him, according to the Inquirer account. “What? Homicide? I didn’t see no homicide,” Miller said.

Miller went on to deny telling detectives that Davis had confessed, and to deny that he had signed any statement to that effect.

Sax’s second witness was a detective who said he put Miller in touch with homicide detectives after Miller called and said he knew who committed the murder.

But when Sax searched the courthouse for the detective who took Miller’s statement, he couldn’t find the officer. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Simmons “was not amused” and “tempers flared.” Simmons ordered Sax to lower his voice and stop interrupting, and warned Sax he would be held in contempt.

Sax issued his challenge for Simmons to carry through, apparently because he was worried Simmons would dismiss the case, according to the Inquirer. A contempt hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Incorrect reference to Sax in penultimate paragraph corrected at 10:10 a.m.

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