Trials & Litigation

Rebuked after muttered remarks at federal sentencing, defense lawyer says cursing is commonplace

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Admonished by a federal judge for remarks he made under his breath while a prosecutor was arguing at a November sentencing hearing, and again while leaving in an elevator, a prominent Cleveland defense lawyer says he has apologized.

However, attorney Craig Weintraub also says that such curse words are commonplace, and described the proceeding that resulted in the rebuke as a “monumental waste of federal tax dollars,” reports.

“This process of a contempt proceeding started against me because a deputy who transports criminals from a federal facility to federal court acted as if he was traumatized by hearing curse words,” said Weintraub. “Now, I don’t know how inexperienced this guy is, but curse words are commonplace among most criminals and law-enforcement agents and criminal defense attorneys, and, believe it or not, holier-than-thou prosecutors.”

Exactly what Weintraub said during and after the sentencing hearing is, at least to some extent, disputed. But, based on the recollection of multiple witnesses that he had repeatedly dropped the f-bomb, among other “profane language,” U.S. District Judge John Adams said “overwhelming evidence proves that Attorney Weintraub misbehaved in the presence of the court.”

Adams explains in a written opinion (PDF) that neither he nor the court reporter heard Weintraub’s remarks to the prosecutor at the November hearing, so they are not part of the official record.

Hence, since he was unaware of the remarks until afterward, civil contempt is not an appropriate remedy, the judge wrote in his Friday opinion. While he could have held Weintraub in criminal contempt, the attorney’s apology to opposing counsel and the court—and the minimal impact on the proceedings—weigh against doing so, Adams said.

Instead, the judge issued the opinion without making a contempt finding. He referred the matter to Ohio attorney disciplinary authorities “to determine whether any further sanction should flow from the conduct and the open issue of whether Attorney Weintraub was candid to the court in his recollection of the events of November 3, 2015.”

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