New Mexico attorney Alan Maestas was convicted of contempt, sentenced and fined after he refused to go forward with the defense of his client in a criminal trial. On Wednesday, a state appeals court affirmed the conviction but found that the trial court abused its discretion in handing down an “undeniably harsh” sentence.

According to the New Mexico Court of Appeals’ June 22 opinion, penned by Judge Megan P. Duffy, Maestas represented a criminal defendant in Union County District Court who was arrested and charged with criminal sexual penetration of a minor, child abuse resulting in great bodily harm, and enticement of a child. Maestas’ defense theory involved discrediting the interview methods employed to elicit the allegations made by the victim.