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Maintaining Order In the Courtroom

September 2, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Anyone caught attempting to intimidate attorneys, whether prosecution or defense, in criminal trials should be found in contempt of court and punished. Such behavior interferes with justice. That is unacceptable in our nation.

During proceedings in Ohio County Circuit Court last Thursday, defense attorney Robert McCoid complained he and another lawyer were intentionally blocked by a man as they attempted to leave the courtroom during a prior proceeding. The man "body checked" the other lawyer, McCoid said.

McCoid asked Judge Arthur Recht to require that he and the defendant "not be assaulted or threatened or intimidated as we exit or enter the building."

Recht promptly warned any such behavior will be considered contempt of court. He was absolutely right to do so.

Criminal trials can be emotional affairs. Crime victims and their families usually are angry, sometimes extremely so, about what has happened to them.

Still, attorneys are just doing their jobs. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Justice is handled by the people, represented by the court system, not by aggrieved individuals.

If judges have to impose fines and/or jail time to get that message across, they should not hesitate to do so.

 
 

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