Friday, March 21, 2008

Stand Down! No, you Stand down!

A tough week for Judges and lawyers apparently.

Judge Found in Violation of Conduct Code After Ordering Attorney to Be Shackled

W.J. Hennigan Legal Times

The D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure determined last week that D.C. Superior Court Judge John Bayly Jr. violated the code of judicial conduct when he ordered a Public Defender Service attorney to be shackled and detained after an argument.

Transcripts from a criminal hearing on Aug. 29, 2007 reveal that the incident began when PDS attorney Liyah Brown attempted to tell Bayly that her client was "a homeless man." Bayly, however, said he wasn't so sure: "I don't know that he is."

The two began arguing until Bayly told Brown to "be quiet" and have a seat. He said he would "call the case later," and warned if she continued, she was "going to be in contempt in a minute."
When Brown failed to stop, Bayly called on a U.S. marshal to "[s]tep her back, please. Step her back." Brown was then handcuffed, subjected to a pat-down search and held in a cell with misdemeanor defendants for about 45 minutes.

The following week, PDS attorneys started a silent protest by wearing red armbands around the courthouse. They said their intention was to show solidarity with Brown.

The commission's determination and undertaking was issued last week and signed by Bayly on March 11. The determination said his actions were "grossly disproportionate" to Brown's conduct. It also said Bayly violated the code of conduct that says a "judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity."

According to the commission, Bayly has accepted the commission's conclusion and recognized his violation. He also wrote a note to Brown apologizing for his actions.

The commission said in view of Bayly's more than 18-year record on the bench, no further sanctions were necessary.