Patterico's Pontifications


Order in the Court (Updated)

Filed under: Court Decisions,Law — DRJ @ 2:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

An Austin, Texas, lawyer has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for contempt after making an obscene gesture in court last month that he claimed was directed at “ruthless prosecutors” and not the judge:

“Saying that Austin defense lawyer Adam Reposa tarnished the dignity of the judicial process by making a lewd gesture in court last month, visiting state District Judge Paul Davis today sentenced Reposa to 90 days in jail for contempt of court.

Reposa, 33, was led from the courtroom at the Heman Sweatt Travis County Courthouse in handcuffs. He whispered to his lawyer and other defense lawyers in attendance about filing an appeal. He told reporters Davis’ punishment “was fair.”

A day earlier after a more than four-hour hearing, Davis found Reposa in contempt for making a gesture simulating masturbation while standing before County Court-at-Law Judge Jan Breland during a pretrial hearing March 11. Breland testified that Reposa rolled his eyes and looked at her while motioning with his right hand near the front of his waist. Reposa said the gesture came from near his hip and was aimed at a prosecutor. They were discussing plea negotiations in a driving while intoxicated case.”

Reposa apologized but also attempted to justify his behavior:

“[Judge] Davis noted that Reposa, when testifying in Tuesday’s hearing, fluctuated between apologizing for offending Breland to justifying his behavior as that of a zealous defender taking on ruthless prosecutors in the county attorney’s office.

“In other words,” Davis said, “you weren’t accepting responsibility.”

The Travis County attorney’s office presented Breland’s case against Reposa. First Assistant County Attorney Randy Leavitt argued in a closing argument that Reposa’s gesture was the latest and worst of a string of offensive behavior by the lawyer. Reposa has called prosecutors vulgar names in court, he said.

Defense counsel offered a good analysis of Reposa’s behavior:

“Reposa’s defense lawyer Carlos Garcia, who didn’t attempt to justify Reposa’s behavior, suggested that Davis sentence Reposa to one day in jail.

“No lawyer has the right . . . to go into a courtroom and do what you did,” Garcia said during closing arguments. “This is crazy.”

I think this case shows an attorney can be overly zealous.

UPDATE 4/17/2008:
After 8 hours in custody, Reposa was released from jail pending appeal.


15 Responses to “Order in the Court (Updated)”

  1. Showing emotion — grandstanding for the gallery, or whoever — is almost always a mistake, purely in terms of the harm it does to your client.

    Beldar (848a05)

  2. ” “Reposa’s defense lawyer Carlos Garcia, who didn’t attempt to justify Reposa’s behavior, suggested that Davis sentence Reposa to one day in jail.

    “No lawyer has the right . . . to go into a courtroom and do what you did,” Garcia said during closing arguments. “This is crazy.””

    Yah, just like Nifong!

    Sometimes attorneys make for the best jokes in the world! Too bad we don’t a YouTube of the event!

    TC (d16524)

  3. Ninety days in jail for making an obscene gesture? That is so far beyond anything reasonable that they should be considering impeachment against the judge for abusing her authority.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  4. But within the guide-lines…

    And I bet lawyers in her courtroom are on their BEST behavior from now on, don’t you think?

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  5. A few months ago I attended my father-in-law’s funeral. He was an old school Chicago attorney who practiced the art of being a gentleman to deal with while at the same time fighting tooth and nail for his clients.

    Whatever happened to this” I have been a DA for over ten years and teh young defense attorneys seem to be getting worse and worse in their behavior. I haven’t seen anything like this personally, but I have seen things that are not far off. I am glad that he got what he got.

    Law schools should spend more time teaching professionalism.

    Ryan Wright (41f3eb)

  6. Law schools should spend more time teaching professionalism.
    A sense of guilt has to be instilled by the age of 5, and a sense of responsibility by the age of 10. After that, it’s too late.
    We live in a decadent society, on the way downhill from its zenith.
    In a sense, law schools are part of the problem, as they aggrandize the role of law in the maintenance of good social order.
    “Old school” expects conduct that is considerably “better” than “not breaking the law.”

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  7. Would someone kindly explain to this layman why an attorney would go out of the way to anger either the judge or a jury(or both). Is that a recognized tactic or just plain stupiridy?

    Bar Sinister (3c44d0)

  8. Which Shakespearian character was it that had the solution here?

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  9. Dick, one of Jack Cade’s henchmen. I don’t know what happened to Dick but Jack Cade was hanged.

    nk (6b7d4f)

  10. He probably had a poor lawyer.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  11. No, peasants were not entitled to lawyers in 1450 England. Or trials for that matter. The Mayor of London just ordered him hanged on the spot. His feudal lord, against whom he was rebelling, also had the right to do that, any time, for a good reason, a bad reason or no reason at all. Be grateful for America and make July 4 your Christmas and Easter both.

    nk (6b7d4f)

  12. nk…
    I didn’t really think they held a trial, not one more formal than the Mayor just saying “hang him”.
    And, (having seen some of the places I would not want to return to) I am always grateful that I have been blessed to have been born in this wonderful country – a blessing that seems to have escaped many (in their views) who impose upon us in public life today.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  13. Yup. Or to even having been given the gift of coming here.

    nk (6b7d4f)

  14. And on the lighter side, did you mean Michelle America-Dented-My-Mercedes Obama?

    nk (6b7d4f)

  15. She’s only the most prominant one, there are too many more that are oblivious to the bounty that has been granted them – and I’m not talking about material bounty.
    It also seems that those, like MO, who have been given the opportunity to amass wealth, are the most resentful of their presence in this Country of Opportunity, and its’ place in the world as that Shining City on a Hill.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.0836 secs.