Judge jails lawyer and client over late arrival

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I couldn’t help but laugh when I came across this story about a Becks County Judge who ordered a Philadelphia attorney and his client to be locked up for arriving 50 minutes late for a jury selection.

Here’s how the American Bar Association Journal reports the story:

When a Philadelphia lawyer and his client arrived 50 minutes late for jury selection in a drug case on Monday, a Pennsylvania judge jailed them both.

Holding lawyer B. David Marcial in contempt and upping 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, reports the Reading Eagle

“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.” 

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.

I’m certain the lawyer will make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before scheduled time on his next appointment.

Do you think the judge was too harsh?

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