My cyber colleague Carolyn Elefant over at MyShingle reported Sunday morning about a Louisiana judge who issued a bench warrant for an attorney who failed to appear at a hearing. The lawyer spent an hour in lockup and had to post a $20,000 bond. The story is described in the Lafeyette Daily Advertiser (Oct. 4, 2003).
Said attorney — surprise!! — blames it on miscommunication and scheduling confusion. Carolyn wonders if the judge was just having a bad day or “is there more to this story that would justify what appears to be an overly harsh response to a missed court appearance?”
I’m gonna give the attorney the benefit of the doubt (knowing neither the facts nor the reputation of the characters involved). However, there better be, and almost always is, “more to the story” when a judge dishes out this kind of treatment to a distinguished member of the bar.
One does not have to spend much time around criminal or family courts to know there are a number of attorneys in every community who chronically fail to appear at court due to “scheduling difficulties”, “communication breakdowns”, and unreliable underlings. These attorneys cause great disruption and added expense for the courts, the litigants, and opposing counsel. If more judges would motivate more attorneys to get their acts together, everyone would be much obliged. The real question is why there aren’t a lot more attorneys enjoying the accommodations at the county jail.