Michigan attorney held in contempt for advising client to stay silent

It’s one of the more basic tasks an attorney can handle: attending the arraignment of your client for a misdemeanor. For Stanton attorney Scott Millard of Miel & Carr, it wound up in the strangest reversals of fortune a lawyer could imagine: with him in jail, after being found in contempt of court for instructing his client to assert his Fifth Amendment rights in the face of questioning about things unrelated to the charged crime. [Holland Sentinel, The Grand Rapids Press].

Millard’s client was charged with minor-in-possession in Hudsonville. When 58th District Court Judge Kenneth Post asked the client whether he had used drugs in the past, Millard instructed him not to answer. Post found Millard in contempt and had him jailed.

Millard was released later that afternoon by Ottawa County Circuit Judge Edward Post on Millard’s emergency motion. Millard has appealed the contempt order to Ottawa Circuit Court.

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E-filing project ordered for Ottawa County courts

The move toward statewide electronic document filing in the court system continues.

The Michigan Supreme Court announced yesterday that Ottawa County courts will participate in a five-year e-filing pilot project beginning Oct. 1.

The purpose of the pilot program is to study the effectiveness of electronically filing court documents in connection with the just, speedy, and economical determination of the actions involved in the pilot program. …

Participation may be initiated with new case filings or existing case files. At the discretion of the judge, participation may also include postdisposition proceedings in qualifying case types.

This is a voluntary e-filing project; however, once a case is designated as part of the e-filing project, it is presumed that all further documents will be filed electronically. Ottawa County recognizes that circumstances may arise preventing one from e-filing.

To ensure all parties retain access to the participating courts, parties that demonstrate good cause will be permitted to file documents with the clerk, who will then file the documents electronically.

The MSC’s directive, Administrative Order No. 2011-4, covers the 20th Circuit Court, the Ottawa County Probate Court and the 58th District Court.

The project will remain effective until Dec. 31, 2016 or until further order of the court.