30 days for making a record

It’s been drilled in us since the day we started working as trial attorneys: “Make a record, make a record, make a record”. Yeah, kinda like a broken record. So when Georgia public defender Sherri Johnson attempted to do what can only be considered very smart lawyering, she got hit with a 30 day sentence for contempt of court. CDW points to the opinion and some facts:

Jefferson was found in contempt for stating, “[T]hat’s a gross interference with the way that I can represent my client, your Honor” in response to the juvenile court’s ruling that she could not question the investigating officer about the shooter’s statement before first calling the shooter himself to the stand. In making the statement, Jefferson was articulating the basis for her objection to the trial court’s ruling, albeit in a strenuous manner.

Jefferson also was found in contempt for stating “I just want the record to reflect with much respect, Your Honor, . . . I just find the Court is biased in its view. You say that you’re not prejudging the case but it seems to me like you’ve made up your mind and any and everything I do to effectively defend my client I’m being rebutted.” While the transcript of the delinquency hearing does not support a finding of bias, the fact that Jefferson was substantively wrong on this issue does not in itself render her allegation of bias contemptuous.

CDW is absolutely correct in pointing out that this is very low on the scale of contemptuous acts in court by an attorney. Heck, if I think back to some of the things I said on Monday, I’d be facing a loooong vacation in lockup. If anyone wants to read the appellate decision, the cite is: In re Sherri Jefferson, 2007 Ga. App. LEXIS 391 (Ga. Ct. App. 2007)

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