The Ottawa County Bar Association and Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan and The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan joined forces today, urging a Michigan Court to dismiss contempt charges against a lawyer. The criminal defense attorney they are fighting for was jailed for asserting his client's Fifth Amendment rights. The judge had asked the attorney to sit down when the lawyer kept advising his client not to answer self-incriminating questions. This all happened in the Ottawa County Court located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In early December, Attorney Scott G. Millard was held in contempt and jailed by 58th District Court Judge Kenneth Post Today, a brief was submitted after the attorney's legal team filed an appeal brief.
Miriam Aukerman, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan said, "The attorney in this case was thrown in jail for simply doing his job. If allowed to stand, this judge's actions could set a dangerous precedent in which defense attorneys fear punishment for defending their client's best interests."
Kudos goes out to this vigorous criminal defense lawyer who was zealously advocating for his client. This is after all, what our legal system intended to allow. Interestingly, Millard was representing a client who was charged with an MIP, which is a minor in possession of alcohol. Not the most serious of charges, yet Millard was zealous. When Millard asserted his client's constitutional rights again in response to further questions, the judge held him in contempt and sent him to jail.
If the case isn't dismissed, a hearing date will ensue in the future. Pending the appeal, Millard was released after spending a few hours in jail.