Man Found in Contempt of Court for Showing Up 10 Minutes Late
Case: People v. Richards
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
Judges: Per Curiam – Borrello, Murphy, and Ronayne Krause
Contempt; In re Contempt of Henry; In re Contempt of Dudzinski; In re Contempt of Robertson; MCL 600.1701(g); Criminal contempt; In re Contempt of Rochlin; MCL 600.1711(1); MCL 600.1715(1); Porter v. Porter; People v. Kammeraad
Holding that defendant’s 10-minute tardiness for a motion hearing, considered together with his behavior throughout the case, was sufficient to support the trial court’s criminal contempt ruling and the 30-day jail sentence imposed, the court affirmed. The sentence was to be served concurrently with the sentence on his underlying conviction for aggravated domestic violence. His tardiness “was but just one instance of a litany of contemptible acts and insolent behavior” he engaged in during the case. He showed up for a prior hearing at the scheduled time and spoke to his attorney in the hallway, but could not be found when the case was called. When he came into the courtroom, he was talking on his cell phone. His explanation was that his brother called and he stepped out to talk to him and smoke a cigarette. During the hearing at which he pleaded guilty to the underlying charge, he interrupted the trial court over 10 times and was warned “to stop talking or else he would be found in contempt. [He] was repeatedly argumentative, disrespectful, and noncompliant with the trial court’s instructions.” Finally, at the hearing where he was found in contempt, he explained he was late “because a bus was not on time and he was forced to walk. The trial court did not find” him credible, noting he had been late previously. During the hearing, he interrupted his wife’s testimony, and when the trial court was issuing its ruling, he “began making disruptive gestures and was scolded” for doing so. The trial court noted “its belief, based on defendant’s history, that he ‘shows up when he feels like it,’” and indicated that “it had warned defense counsel that defendant would be held in contempt if he was late.” It then held him in contempt, “causing defendant to blare out that he would immediately report the matter to the Judicial Tenure Commission. Defendant’s gamesmanship relative to the criminal justice system was evident.” The court held that there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he “engaged in willful acts of disorderly, contemptuous, disrespectful, and insolent behavior, disrupting and disobeying” the trial court process.