Thursday, October 22, 2009

Harsh language in brief becomes harsh toke for lawyer who wrote it resulting in jail time

An attorney who harshly criticized a judge and other officials in a Missouri court filing was held in contempt of court and sentenced to 120 days in the hoosegow.  According to the Associated Press:

A Douglas County jury convicted Carl Smith, 62, of Ava, of criminal contempt in August. He was sentenced Sept. 28 to 120 days in jail. He cannot appeal the sentence because the case was prosecuted under common law, as opposed to statutory law.

Smith's attorney has asked the Missouri Supreme Court to intervene, saying that while Smith's arguments may have been better expressed, the punishment is excessive.

"The key thing here is what is the appropriate sanction when an attorney overstates or inartfully drafts an argument," attorney Bruce Galloway said. "My position is that the First Amendment right of free speech would prevent the use of a criminal sanction for an attorney who oversteps in his pleadings."

I hope Mr. Smith at least had the good sense to write the nasty bits using the active voice. 

Hat tip to the online ABA Journal.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

 

 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2009/10/harsh-language-in-brief-becomes-harsh-toke-for-lawyer-who-wrote-it-resulting-in-jail-time.html

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