The January 7, 2014 criminal contempt conviction of Assistant Common Wealth Attorney Catherine Paxson won on appeal.
Paxson was charged with criminal contempt and fined $250 for arriving late to Judge S. Clark Daugherty’s courtroom. The charge happened as a result of an over-lapping in Paxson’s appointment schedule. Paxson had left notice with the clerk for Judge Daugherty’s courtroom she would be attending to matters in circuit court. The Clerk had noted Paxson would be absent in court records. The Judge handled matters that didn’t require Paxson’s presence.
Paxson’s late arrival delayed court proceedings and kept 15 people waiting for at least an hour while Paxson tended to matters in another circuit court. Defense attorneys, police officers and preliminary hearings for six defendants were put on hold until Paxson finally arrived and explained to the judge what happened.
Judge Daugherty noted in his conviction citation that Paxson apologized and proceeded in a professional manner in conducting the six prelminary hearings. The Judge also noted Paxson had no prior offenses inconveniencing the Court.
Circuit Judge Charles E. Poston called the case “unusual to say the least” and reversed the conviction with prejudice. Special prosecutor, Earle C. Mobley, filed motions to dismiss the case in a hearing that lasted about 15 seconds. Online court records reflect February 19, 2014 set for a hearing.
Massachusetts Criminal Attorney Patrick Donovan is a former assistant district attorney in Massachusetts.