Recently, the Court of Appeals, Michigan, USA, fined a lawyer James Heos $3000 for raising his middle finger to the camera while his opposing counsel was arguing. The Court stated that as per the Lawyer’s Oath, Heos had affirmed that he would maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers, abstain from all offensive personality and conduct himself professionally.
When the Bench questioned Heos about his obscene gesture, he denied doing so, but the recording of the proceedings confirmed that he had made the obscene gesture.
According to the Court, Heos exhibited shameful disrespect to the Court and the opposing counsel and gave dishonest replies to the Court’s queries. The Bench further stated that Heos displayed a general lack of civility and respect, which is prohibited per Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.
According to the said Rule, a lawyer shall not engage in undignified or discourteous conduct towards the tribunal.
The Bench ruled that due to the conduct of the lawyer, sanctions were warranted for his contempt. The Court referred to a ruling that states contempt committed in immediate view and presence of Court can be punished summarily by imprisonment, fine or both.
The Court proceeded to direct the Court’s Clerk to refer Heos to the Attorney Grievance Commission for investigation regarding his conduct.