Trials & Litigation
Lawyer is fined after her process server delivers subpoena to another attorney during murder-trial break
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A lawyer in Mobile, Alabama, has been held in contempt after her process server delivered a subpoena to a criminal defense attorney in front of jurors during a break in his client’s murder trial.
Judge Wesley Pipes of Mobile County, Alabama, held lawyer Christine Hernandez and her process server in contempt Friday, AL.com reports. Hernandez was fined $100, while her process server was fined $10.
The lawyer who received the subpoena, Chase Dearman, was defending a man charged with felony murder and first-degree robbery Nov. 18 when the process server went to the courthouse, according to AL.com, which cited the judge’s order. The process server delivered the subpoena during a break in the trial in front of jurors in the hallway.
Dearman sought a mistrial. He then reached a plea deal in which his client pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Pipes said the process server should have been aware that the people in the hallway were jurors because they were wearing blue badges.
“This court cannot and will not allow gamesmanship and unrelated squabbles among lawyers to interrupt, hinder and disturb its proceedings as happened in this case,” Pipes wrote.
Hernandez represents a client who was accused of stealing from Dearman while employed by him.
Hernandez told the ABA Journal in an email that she didn’t intend for Dearman to be served during trial, and she plans to appeal.
“The video clearly shows a paper handed to the attorney outside of court near the elevator, and no one noticed the service,” Hernandez said in the email. “The evidence does not support the finding, in my opinion. There are issues for appeal, so notice of appeal will be filed.”