A three-day murder trial in Arkansas was aborted this week when defence counsel , Jim Morris, showed up eight minutes late, and failed to telephone the court to advise he was on his way.
Judge Bynum Gibson had requested that counsel appear at 8:30 am to deal with several preliminary motions. The trial was set to commence at 9 am with the selection of a jury. At 9:08 when Mr. Morris arrived, the potential jury members and witnesses, numbering 60 to 70, had been already been dismissed by the judge.
Counsel Morris told the Court he had to drop his daughter off at camp in Little Rock and was unable to call the Court due to bad cell phone reception. Judge Gibson, who was also an AT&T subscriber, didn’t believe him.
Judge Gibson said: “I would have given you some lee-way, if you had called,” adding that 60-70 jurors had to be paid, and multiple witnesses had to be reimbursed. “I’ve had defendants not show up, but never had attorneys show up after 9 o’clock. It’s killed 3 days of court time.”
Judge Gibson levied a fine of $4,000 against Mr. Morris, despite his protestations that he couldn’t pay such a large fine. Judge Gibson told him that initially he had considered jailing him, but decided a fine would suffice. Lawyer Morris replied “I merely made a bad decision, trying to be a good father.”
Demarcus Veasey’s first-degree murder trial was adjourned to July 2016. While Judge Gibson’s treatment of Mr. Morris was harsh, what is most notable is that accused Mr. Veasey, who allegedly committed the crime in January 2016 was set for trial only 6 months later, and the trial was set for a mere 3 days. I’d say the State of Arkansas knows how to get down to business, wouldn’t you?
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang