Monday, March 20, 2006
On March 10, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed a trial court's decision summarily finding a criminal defense lawyer in contempt during a Rule 11 change of plea. The only dissent was by a trial court judge sitting by designation in the Supreme Court.
The key paragraph in the dissent reads:
"To my knowledge, this is the first time in Vermont that an attorney has been criminally convicted and held in jail for efforts to protect a client's rights. This is of even greater concern given that
attorney in this case never had the opportunity for a hearing. Rather, he was subject to a criminal conviction and yet received less due process than someone who is charged with a noise complaint or a speeding ticket. While the trial judge must have the power to maintain order and preserve respect for the institution of the court, this cannot be done at the expense of procedural fairness.
The decision, In re Duckworth, can be found here. [Mark Godsey, thanks to Wayne Young]