A defense lawyer went ballistic at the Criminal Justice Center yesterday after a judge initially refused to lower his client's bail or change his sentence in a contempt case.
According to observers, the attorney, Adam J. Rodgers, threw a pen and his leather bag, pushed or hurled a chair, and raised a chair over his head, then slammed it down.
Rodgers then stormed out of Common Pleas Judge Chris R. Wogan's courtroom, repeatedly screaming "Bull----!" and yelling about the percieved injustice.
Rodgers said by phone afterward that he was outraged in regard to rulings on his client, Aaron Garnett. Garnett, 36, of Elkins Park, faces trial on gun allegations in two cases.
On April 21, Garnett initially failed to show up in court on the gun charges, and Wogan issued a bench warrant. After he arrived in court late, the judge found him in contempt in the two gun cases and sentenced him to two consecutive terms of two to six months in county prison on contempt charges. Garnett then was taken into custody.
The judge also increased Garnett's bail in the gun cases to $50,000.
Rodgers said his client was late because of a family emergency - a flood in his grandmother's house. The judge said by phone yesterday that defendants say such things as a way of "managing their defense," and said he doesn't tolerate no-shows.
The judge said that during a motion for reconsideration in court yesterday, he initially had confused Garnett with another defendant who had shown up late one day, lying about being stuck in traffic.
The judge, thinking Garnett was the defendant who lied, kept Garnett's bail and sentence as is. He then left the bench.
That's when, observers said, Rodgers threw his tantrum.
He then left the courtroom and was waiting for an elevator when, Rodgers said, a court officer approached him and told him that the judge had confused the defendant who lied about having been stuck in traffic with his client. He then returned to the room.
Back on the bench, the judge lowered Garnett's bail to $15,000 and granted Garnett parole on the sentences in the contempt cases.
Wogan said he couldn't hold Rodgers in contempt of court because the tantrum had not occurred in his presence and had not obstructed the court's operations.
The trial on Garnett's gun charges is in October. *