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Defense Counsel Jailed for Being Tardy

10 May

It always amazes me at how late some attorneys are for court. I have a very strict practice of always being on time if not early. This morning, for example, I had a flat tire and still and 15 minutes early to my hearing. However, I have learned that is not the practice of most attorneys. Do NOT be that attorney…be on time.

Recently a Philadelphia lawyer and his client (even worse) arrived 50 minutes late for jury selection in a drug case on Monday. FIFTY minutes is a complete disregard for the court and there is no excuse for such an act. So what happened? The Pennsylvania judge jailed them both.

The Judge held defense lawyer B. David Marcial in contempt and increased the bond for his client, Jesus O. Ortiz, from $120,000 to $3 million, Judge Stephen B. Lieberman of Berks County ordered both held in the courthouse cellblock.

What did the judge have to say?

“We were all here at 9 a.m. for a jury trial and the defense table was empty,” said the judge, who had dismissed the prospects not long before the two arrived. “We wasted a jury panel.” Although, I know some judges who do not take the bench until well after 9am it is no excuse when your case is set for trial. Be on time!

Four hours later, Lieberman had both brought before him for a hearing. Marcial, who must also pay a $1,000 fine within 60 days or serve 10 days in prison, explained that personal problems kept him up late and then a receptionist at a local hotel failed to give him a wake-up call, the newspaper recounts. He left the courthouse after the hearing but Ortiz was transported to the county jail.

Even further, accept the fact that you were late. Don’t try and come up with unnecessary excuses to the judge. It just makes you look worse.

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