Minnesota Lawyer Convicted of Contempt In Skipping First Day of Trial To Go To Paris

We recently saw the relatively light treatment given a Wisconsin juror who walked out of deliberations in a major criminal case to enjoy a vacation in Cancun. The same does not appear to hold true for lawyers who are accused of skipping out on trials, it appears. Lawyer M. Tayari Garrett was convicted of misdemeanor contempt for skipping a trial last year to attend her brother’s wedding in Paris. She was given one year probation and a $1000 fine.

Garrett, who divides her time between Texas and Minnesota, was convicted of intentionally skipping a mortgage fraud trial. Garrett and Judge William Howard had various confrontations in the case, and Garrett sought his removal. She later accused Howard and the prosecutors of colluding to create evidence against her in the contempt case.

Garrett asked Howard to change her client’s trial date. He refused to do so and Garrett missed the first day of the trial to attend the wedding in Paris.

Garrett, 37, is reportedly an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and an adjunct writing instructor at William Mitchell College of Law. I was unable to confirm the positions at the website of either school where her name does not appear with the adjuncts.

Efay Martin-Mahuru was accused of helping several people in a $2.8 million mortgage fraud scheme in Minnesota. The trial was set for May 2, 2011. Garrett asked Howard for continuances in March and April. Notably, five days before Howard denied the April motion, Garrett bought her airline ticket to France.

Garrett however insisted that she was hospitalized the day before trial and her travel after her hospitalization was “immaterial.”

Source: Star Tribune as first seen on ABA Journal

45 thoughts on “Minnesota Lawyer Convicted of Contempt In Skipping First Day of Trial To Go To Paris”

  1. Ross Perot was in the debates,idealist. I think the rule is that a candidate has to be polling at 15% to qualify.

  2. Henman,

    Thanks. But a useless effort. The stranglehold will not weaken for this.
    So far the BIG one has been, as commenters say, a matter of posturing. And avoiding valud issues, BIG issues.

    Just think the horror of having a third party or more candidates to choose from. How could we manage? Seriously!

  3. This is off-topic, but I will post it anyway:

    TUESDAY, OCT. 23, 2012

    The Third Party debate will be held Tuesday evening at 9PM ET, 8 CT, 7MT, and 6PT. It will be shown live ONLY on the internet sposored by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation (freeandequal.org). There is info on their website about live streaming on ORA TV (www.ora.tv) and RT (Russia Today- rt.com). I believe it is also availible on Al Jazeera and YouTube. Larry King will moderate and the 4 candidates are:

    Jill Stein- Green Party
    Rocky Anderson- Justice Party
    Gary Johnson- Libertarian Party
    Virgil Goode- Constitution Party

    Editorial comment:
    As you know, the candidates appearing on the “real” Presidential Debates are selected by a committee of Republicans and Democrats, who have not selected a 3rd Party candidate since Ross Perot. Apparently, the Republicans and Democrats also control ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, FOX NEWS, and all three C-SPAN channels- none of which are broadcasting the Third Party Presidential Debate.

    How pathetic is it that we have to go to obscure websites, two of which are foreign, to listen to legitimate candidates for the Presidency of our country?

    This is another of the many reasons why our country needs to listen to voices other than the two corporate-owned political parties that once again are giving us a “choice” between the “lesser of two evils”, which amounts to no choice at all. Folks, think for yourselves and vote for candidates who reflect YOUR OWN VALUES.

  4. This attorney was looking for a problem when she ignored the trial date. However, I am surprised that the judge would not postpone it for a family event of that magnitude.

  5. Kay,

    Do much time reading law texts? Or did you memorize them all years ago.

    And if you are so damn smart why did you not sow some MJ seeds in the neighbors grass or flower beds?
    The DEA would have loved him as a “criminal” to squeeze, and so would the FBI.

    Just kidding—no, really. But you must have other ways with which to impress us.

    1. I’m under the impression that when lawyers are disbarred it is supposed to be for significant infraction of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

      So this one you think?


      A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

      [1] A lawyer should pursue a matter on behalf of a client despite opposition, obstruction, or personal inconvenience to the lawyer,

  6. Frankly, I agree about the “creative” first names being a liability as you move through the world. But, it’s the pretense of the first initial middle name that is often used by attorneys. If your parents gave you a horsesh!t first name then just go by your middle name. The first initial is what makes it pretentious.

  7. Nick – to be fair it could also mean her parents gave her a first name that sucks wind. Rather than be “Mellifluous” T. Garrett she may have found her middle name less objectionable,

    I just read over the weekend that one of the major regrets parents are now feeling is the bizzaro names they gave their kids. That may have affected my opinion of the practice as I hear too may Jaylada’s Marquilla’s and the like around my neighborhood.

  8. When an attorney uses the first initial for their first name it is indicative of their personality. No matter their name just remember this name: I. Am Pretentious

  9. Here’s another relevant federal law. The USMS entered this as a felony charge against me on the NCIC, causing me to be arrested and detained without a bail hearing for 22 days, but it wasn’t filed as a criminal charge in Court.

    18 USC § 1509 – Obstruction of court orders

    Whoever, by threats or force, willfully prevents, obstructs, impedes, or interferes with, or willfully attempts to prevent, obstruct, impede, or interfere with, the due exercise of rights or the performance of duties under any order, judgment, or decree of a court of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
    No injunctive or other civil relief against the conduct made criminal by this section shall be denied on the ground that such conduct is a crime.

    I’m leaving for a while so post away, I don’t mean to dominate this blog even though I am obviously very interested in contempt of court proceedings.

  10. So, you see Garrecht got a reasonable time to prepare her defense, a written criminal complaint, a government prosecutor, a right to a defense lawyer, a right to witnesses, opportunity to cross witnesses, and a new judge and she was not convicted of criticizing a judge.

    This was all completely different than the process I received when I was detained by DOJ for 5 months. I wasn’t accused of criminal contempt. I didn’t get a written criminal complaint, a government prosecutor, an independent prosecutor who wasn’t financially interested, a new judge, a right to a defense lawyer, a right to witnesses, an opportunity to ask questions of witnesses etc.


    (a) Disposition After Notice. Any person who commits criminal contempt may be punished for that contempt after prosecution on notice.

    (1) Notice. The court must give the person notice in open court, in an order to show cause, or in an arrest order. The notice must:

    (A) state the time and place of the trial;

    (B) allow the defendant a reasonable time to prepare a defense; and

    (C) state the essential facts constituting the charged criminal contempt and describe it as such.

    (2) Appointing a Prosecutor. The court must request that the contempt be prosecuted by an attorney for the government, unless the interest of justice requires the appointment of another attorney. If the government declines the request, the court must appoint another attorney to prosecute the contempt.

    (3) Trial and Disposition. A person being prosecuted for criminal contempt is entitled to a jury trial in any case in which federal law so provides and must be released or detained as Rule 46 provides. If the criminal contempt involves disrespect toward or criticism of a judge, that judge is disqualified from presiding at the contempt trial or hearing unless the defendant consents. Upon a finding or verdict of guilty, the court must impose the punishment.

    (b) Summary Disposition. Notwithstanding any other provision of these rules, the court (other than a magistrate judge) may summarily punish a person who commits criminal contempt in its presence if the judge saw or heard the contemptuous conduct and so certifies; a magistrate judge may summarily punish a person as provided in 28 U.S.C. §636(e). The contempt order must recite the facts, be signed by the judge, and be filed with the clerk.

  12. Well she was an officer of the Court and her no show did cost money and interfere with the course of justice.

    In federal law we have

    18 USC § 401 – Power of court

    A court of the United States shall have power to punish by fine or imprisonment, or both, at its discretion, such contempt of its authority, and none other, as—
    (1) Misbehavior of any person in its presence or so near thereto as to obstruct the administration of justice;
    (2) Misbehavior of any of its officers in their official transactions;
    (3) Disobedience or resistance to its lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command

    You see # 2 applies to lawyers and it looks like would authorize criminal contempt for willful failure to appear at a scheduled hearing, at least one in which the lawyer is appearing as an officer of the court.

  13. Just a few clicks to the Minnesota statutes:

    Subd. 2.Misdemeanor contempt. Every person who commits a contempt of court, of any one of the following kinds, is guilty of a misdemeanor:
    (1) disorderly, contemptuous, or insolent behavior, committed during the sitting of the court, in its immediate view and presence, and directly tending to interrupt its proceedings, or to impair the respect due to its authority;

    (2) behavior of like character in the presence of a referee, while actually engaged in a trial or hearing, pursuant to an order of court, or in the presence of a jury while actually sitting for the trial of a cause, or upon an inquest or other proceeding authorized by law;

    (3) breach of the peace, noise, or other disturbance directly tending to interrupt the proceedings of a court, jury, or referee;

    (4) willful disobedience to the lawful process or other mandate of a court other than the conduct described in subdivision 1;

    (5) resistance willfully offered to its lawful process or other mandate other than the conduct described in subdivision 1;

    (6) contumacious and unlawful refusal to be sworn as a witness, or, after being sworn, to answer any legal and proper interrogatory;

    (7) publication of a false or grossly inaccurate report of its proceedings; or

    (8) willful failure to pay court-ordered child support when the obligor has the ability to pay.

    No person may be punished as provided in this subdivision for publishing a true, full, and fair report of a trial, argument, decision, or other court proceeding.

    So she must have been convicted of subsection (4)

  14. Certainly could be argued as being rather convenient she went to the hospital as a pretext. The is certainly not going to help in the marketing of her firm’s services.

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