Minneapolis lawyer M. Tayari Garrett had a good reason for not showing up in court last spring. She claimed she was sick.
Except, an investigation into the issue found that Garrett may have actually jetted off to Paris.
Judge William Howard was not amused. Garrett now faces a fine of $1,000 and a jail term after being charged with criminal contempt.
Garrett purchased plane tickets to go to Paris about a month before the trial. She left two days after the trial date and returned to the United States about five days later.
Garrett contends that the trip to Paris has nothing to do with her absence in court. She says it doesn't matter if she traveled the weekend after the missed date. It is irrelevant to her hospital stay and her health.
This much is true. After all, who knows why Garrett was hospitalized. Maybe she was struck with an acute case of food poisoning that required immediate attention. And, why waste a perfectly good ticket to Paris? Think of all the wine, cheese, and French macarons you might miss out on. Now that would be a real shame.
Garrett insists that the charges against her are "preposterous and vindictive." She has hospital records. She even ensured another attorney made the court date on her behalf.
She has now filed a complaint against the presiding judge with the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards.
While it isn't exactly uncommon for judges to hold lawyers in civil contempt, criminal contempt charges are rare. Chief Hennepin County Judge James Swenson said that M. Tayari Garrett's case was the first one he's seen in his 16 years as a judge, according to the Star Tribune.
- Lawyer Faces Criminal Contempt Charge over Explanation for Missed Trial Date (ABA Journal)
- Facebook Contempt: Juror's Friend Request Sends Her to Jail for 8 Months (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
- Lawyers Advised Clients to Break Back Into House: Now in Contempt (FindLaw's Strategist)