WENDY RUDERMAN

As a defense attorney, D. Scott Perrine is a frequent jailhouse visitor.

Yesterday he became a guest.

A judge in Dauphin County had Perrine arrested and hauled off to the county jail in Harrisburg for contempt of court.

The offense? He stole the court's time - not once, but twice, in the same week.

His defense for missing court? Perrine says he's been tied up on the now-infamous May 5 police-beating case.

Apparently, Dauphin County Common Pleas Judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr., a former state trooper, wasn't sympathetic.

On Monday, Perrine failed to appear in Clark's courtroom for a scheduled jury trial in which the Philly lawyer was supposed to defend a man charged with aggravated assault and burglary. Perrine had called the court administrator to ask for a postponement but never filed a motion for continuance, according to Deputy District Attorney James P. Barker.

Yesterday, Perrine was slated to go before Clark and explain why he missed Monday's court date. At 9 a.m., with Perrine nowhere in sight, Clark issued a bench warrant for his arrest, Barker said.

When a winded and stressed Perrine arrived at the Dauphin County Courthouse about 9:30 a.m. after missing an earlier train from Philadelphia, sheriff's officers locked him up.

"We have had lawyers held in contempt for failing to appear before," Barker said. "But they don't often go to jail because normally they show up for the contempt hearing . . . It's really out of the ordinary, obviously."

Judge Clark did not return a phone call and Perrine was unable to be reached because he was behind bars. Barker said the judge was too busy with other cases yesterday to hold a bail hearing for Perrine. A hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. today.

Until then, Perrine was being held in a segregation unit, where prisoners wear yellow jumpers instead of orange ones, Barker said.

Word of Perrine's arrest spread quickly through the courthouse and the jail, where workers expressed surprise and amusement.

Karen Miller, a North Philly community activist who has been working with Perrine to address police brutality, said she believed Perrine's arrest was retaliatory.

"We know the deal," she said. "People in law enforcement stick together."

Perrine represents 19-year-old Pete Hopkins, one of three shooting suspects whom police pummeled as a Fox 29 News helicopter hovered overhead. The outspoken Perrine has railed against police in defense of Hopkins on national television and at community meetings.

In Wednesday's editions of the Daily News, Perrine was critical of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and said he believed police concocted the shooting story against his client to justify the beating.

Barker said county officials are aware of Perrine's connection to the high-profile case but have no reason to retaliate.

"We don't communicate with the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office," Barker said. "Judge Clark has no reason to retaliate for anything that went on between him and the Philadelphia district attorney."

Perrine, 30, a former city assistant district attorney, has been on the other side of the law before. He was arrested last year after guards at a Northeast Philadelphia prison found a small amount of cocaine in his briefcase when he went to visit a client.

At the time, Perrine described the incident as a misunderstanding. Perrine said he had met with a client's mother and she handed him a vial with .001 grams of cocaine in it "to demonstrate what she has to put up with."

Perrine was charged with carrying contraband and drug possession. Those charges are pending. *