SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - An attorney plans to file a complaint with the state
against a Seminole County judge who berated a domestic violence victim in court during a contempt hearing.
This story made national headlines after Channel 9's Karla Ray reported it on
Several attorneys contacted Ray and expressed concern about the way the case was handled by the judge.
said they believe that the victim should have been provided an attorney before she was questioned in the contempt hearing.
The sobbing domestic violence victim was sentenced to three days in jail by Seminole County Judge Jerri Collins.
The woman, who appeared before the judge after she failed to show up for the trial of her accused abuser, had no attorney with her as she begged the judge for mercy.
"I'll do anything. Please, please," the sobbing woman said.
have shown up," the judge said.
Some attorneys believe that Collins' actions weren't just unethical but also illegal.
"It's not just the rules, it's the law, and I think she broke it blatantly," attorney Brian Byrd said.
At question is whether the woman, who skipped out on a subpoena, should have been
provided with an attorney before her contempt hearing.
Direct contempt cases, which typically involve an outburst in the courtroom, do not require a judge to assign the defendant an attorney.
Byrd, who has been in front of Collins before, said the woman's case is one of indirect contempt, because the action of violating the subpoena took place outside
"It's indirect contempt. She didn't issue that subpoena, the state attorney's office issued that subpoena. She has the right to an attorney." Byrd said. "She was forced to incriminate herself directly."
The state insists that the judge acted properly because the abuser's trial was scheduled to be held in her
courtroom, making the judge a witness to the fact that the woman didn't show up.
"You disobeyed a court order knowing that this was not going to turn out well for the state," Collins told the woman in the hearing.
said that statement was a clear indication of bias in favor of the state.
Collins did not respond to requests from Channel 9 to discuss the case.