A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge yesterday upheld a lower court's contempt citation against a Reston lawyer accused of allowing an imposter to pose as a defendant in a court case.
Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Middleton told lawyer John Patrick Burns of 11800 Sunrise Valley Ct. that "in no way do I condone your conduct," and convicted him of contempt of a lower court judge. Middleton, however, delayed sentencing until April 4.
Burns was fined $50 on Aug. 30 by General District Court Judge Martin F. Morris "for misbehavior in the presence of the court . . . so as to interrupt the administration of justice."
The lawyer was accused of appearing before Morris with a woman who was not a defendant in the case on trial, an action that prosecutors claimed was designed to confuse police witnesses.
In his ruling yesterday, Middleton said Burns "had many opportunities to resolve the identification problem," but deliberately chose not to resolve the matter during the trial.
Burns pleaded innocent to the charges. During a 3 1/2-hour hearing, his attorney, Michael McWeeny, cited an 1871 Virginia case that held that "a lawyer, although he may have erred in conduct, can purge himself of the action if he can prove that he acted in good faith" for his client.
McWeeny said that Burns had "used bad judgement" during the trial.