“’It’s a shameful episode:’ woman who stirred federal judge’s wrath for violating court order must now pay for it”
Some local defense attorneys and their client recently learned what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an irate federal judge whose order not to sell a big warehouse was violated.
“It is shocking to me,” U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn said about the incident. “I entered an order that this not be done, clear as a bell, and it was done.”
…Richard Roper, a former U.S. attorney in Dallas, said contempt charges happen “infrequently” and usually result in a fine and probation. If it involves a lawyer, he could face discipline, he said. But clients sometimes do things without telling their lawyers, he added.
“It puts the lawyer in a difficult position,” Roper said.
One of the most notable contempt cases occurred last year when Joe Arpaio, a controversial former sheriff in Arizona, was convicted of the misdemeanor offense for violating a federal judge’s order in 2011. Arpaio continued to detain immigrants simply because they lacked legal status, in violation of the order. President Donald Trump pardoned the former sheriff last year.
Judges who initiate contempt proceedings have to consider not just themselves but the position they hold, Roper said.
“They have to uphold the dignity of the court,” he said. “If you have people not following the rules, the whole system breaks down.”