The attorney, provides the following summary of a recent legal ethics decision:
The Supreme Court of Arkansas has affirmed a contempt order issued against an attorney. In Benca v. Benton County, an attorney was representing a client at oral argument of a motion to compel discovery. During the proceedings, the presiding judge repeatedly asked the attorney to stop interrupting him, but the attorney failed to heed the judge’s orders. On the sixth disruption, the judge entered an order holding the attorney in contempt of court and fined him $100.
The attorney took a direct appeal to the Supreme Court of Arkansas, which hears all attorney discipline and contempt matters. In order to prevail on appeal, the contemnor must show that there was not substantial evidence to support a finding of contempt, with the facts viewed in the light most favorable to the hearing judge.
The attorney argued that his statements were part of the natural ebb and flow of the oral argument, and thus did not justify a contempt finding. However, upon review of the audio recording and written transcript of the hearing, it was clear the attorney ignored multiple warnings of the hearing judge. The Supreme Court thus affirmed the contempt order.
Decision: Benca v. Benton County