Attorney Stephen Millstein was held in contempt of D.C. Superior Court yesterday and ordered to spend four weekends in jail after he arrived more than an hour late to represent a defendant in a misdemeanor trial before Judge Tim Murphy.
When the judge called Millstein's case -- U.S. vs. Curtis Robert Robinson -- at 9:20 a.m., neither Millstein nor his client was present. Both were scheduled to be in court at 8:45 a.m., records indicated.
Judge Murphy issued a warrant for the arrest of Robinson, who is charged with illegal possession of a knife. Millstein, who Murphy said later has been tardy on several occasions recently, was ordered to appear in court to explain his tardiness.
The judge said outside the courtroom that he had ordered Millstein to pay a $250 fine or go to jail several weeks ago when the lawyer was tardy in the same case. Millstein paid the fine on that occasion. But Murphy said he offered no alternative to jail in this case.
Millstein could not be reached for comment.
"Mr. Millstein, this matter was set for 8:45," Murphy told the lawyer who arrived in court at 10 minutes past 10. "This case was called and you were not here at 9:25. Where were you?"
"Your honor, I did write it down . . ." Millstein told the judge. "If I had two broken legs, I would have crawled here at 9 o'clock in the morning. I found out about it 20 minutes ago and I have been in a cold sweat since that time."
"The court finds you in summary contempt," Murphy said. "Your conduct, Mr. Millstein, is absolutely outrageous."
"I agree with you," responded Millstein, who lives at 2421 Portage Rd., Silver Spring.
Murphy then sentenced Millstein to spend four weekends in the D.C. jail, beginning Aug. 1.
Murphy announced that he was sending the knife-possession case to another judge.
"You will never practice law before me for the remainder of our respective lives," the judge told Millstein.