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Attorney held in contempt, jailed in Clayton County

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Clayton County Superior Court Judge Deborah Benefield ordered sheriff's deputies to jail a local attorney Friday, after she said the lawyer disrespected the court during a hearing.

Benefield found attorney David Lee Smith in contempt of court, sentenced him to 20 days in the Clayton County Jail, and denied him bond.

The incident happened Friday during an extradition hearing for a defendant accused of violation of probation.

According to a Superior Court contempt order, Smith told the court that he had been consulted to represent the defendant, but had not yet been paid, and could not represent the defendant on that date.

Benefield requested that Smith locate Executive Assistant District Attorney Jason Green to discuss a possible continuance in the case, according to the contempt order.

The judge said some time later, Smith and Green entered the courtroom, and she asked them to approach the bench.

Benefield said in the order, "However, a very agitated Mr. Smith said he would not come to the bench but wanted everything on the record.

"Again, I asked them to approach. At that point, Mr. Smith became extremely loud and belligerent and, while pointing a finger at Mr. Green, yelled about some problem that had just occurred between them.

"I ordered Mr. Smith to stop yelling and pointing at Mr. Green. Mr. Smith continued to yell and point," Benefield said in the contempt order.

In the order, the judge said she warned Smith "at least two times, and possibly three," that he risked being jailed if he did not calm down, and subsequently, she ordered deputies to take Smith into custody.

According to the contempt order, after Smith has served two days in jail, the 18 remaining days of the sentence may be suspended -- if Smith agrees to: provide a written apology to the court, and provide written intent to apply for assistance with the Georgia Bar Association for help with anger management.

No attorney was listed in court records as representing Smith late Friday.

Executive Assistant District Attorney Jason Green declined to comment Friday, regarding the incident.