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The D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure found last week that D.C. Superior Court Judge John Bayly Jr. violated the code of judicial conduct when he ordered a Public Defender Service attorney to be shackled and detained after an argument. Transcripts from a criminal hearing on Aug. 29, 2007, reveal the incident began when PDS attorney Liyah Brown attempted to tell Bayly her client was “a homeless man.” Bayly, however, said he wasn’t so sure. The two began arguing until Bayly told Brown to “be quiet” and have a seat. He said he would “call the case later” and warned she was “going to be in contempt in a minute.” When Brown failed to stop, Bayly called on a U.S. marshal to step her back. She was handcuffed, searched, and held in a cell with misdemeanor defendants for about 45 minutes. The commission said Bayly violated the code of conduct that says a “judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous” to lawyers. The commission said in view of Bayly’s more-than-18-year record on the bench, no further sanctions were necessary. Bayly declined to comment. PDS’s general counsel, Julia Leighton, cheered the commission’s decision. “When a judge deprives a lawyer of her liberty in the course of representing a client, that action threatens zealous advocacy in Superior Court,” she says. Brown’s attorney, John Relman of Relman & Dane, says Brown “is pleased that the judge acknowledged he overstepped his role.” But Relman says Brown was “partially strip-searched” by marshals and he believes their actions violated the law.
W.J. Hennigan can be contacted at [email protected].

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