LAWYER SANCTIONED FOR CONTEMPT
A Mohave County Public Defender resigned his position just five days after he was found in contempt of Court and fined by Superior Court Judge Rick Lambert. Judge Lambert and indigent defense attorney Jamie Askar engaged in a very unique and somewhat heated exchange between hearings on January 16.
Judge Lambert first fined Askar $100 before he twice increased the sanction and asked the lawyer if he’d like to go to jail. The following edited hearing excerpts show the skirmish began when Judge Lambert denied Askar’s request for a three-minute delay.
Lambert: No. You may not. You made my Court late 30 minutes today and now we have a 10:30 (hearing). You’re late for that and then you want three minutes past that, so the answer is no.
Askar: If you’re going to be rude to me like that, as a consequence, can we continue it? If you want to do that, that’s fine.
Lambert: I’m finding you in contempt counsel and fining you $100. Anything else?
Askar: I’ll make sure everyone knows about that. Thank you…I’m not going to deal with this disrespect your Honor. I’m sorry.
Lambert: I’m not going to deal with your disrespect counsel. I’m now going to sanction you $250 on top of the $100. Anything else you want to say? You have disrespected this Court by not coming here on time. 30 minutes! And I get word that you didn’t come to work on time. That means my calendar is suffering. So, if there’s any disrespect it’s you not being in this Court on time.
Askar: Would you like to fine my $250 more because that’s wrong?
Lambert: Do you want to go to jail?
Askar: I just don’t want to be disrespected like this your Honor.
Lambert: I’ve never been disrespected like this by any lawyer.
Askar: That’s clearly what’s happening here right now. That’s why you’re being rude.
Lambert: Your disrespect counsel. You’ve gone over the edge here. I am now imposing a $1,000 fine total.
Askar subsequently told the Court he didn’t want to be involved in any more hearings before Lambert that day for fear his clients would suffer prejudice. Lambert ordered Askar to have another member of his office handle the hearings.
Lambert told Askar he has until the end of this month to pay the fine or be subjected to a Contempt of Court proceeding. Askar said he wants to review sanction paperwork before he decides how he’ll respond to Lambert’s directives.
County Human Resources said Askar was hired last August and resigned January 21. Askar confirmed he resigned under threat of dismissal if he did not step down.