You all have heard the story of the court reporter that was sent to jail for missing a deadline. However, many of you are confused about the legality of the judge’s action.
First, let’s have clear that, generally speaking, missing a deadline is not a crime. However, when a judge orders you to meet a deadline and you do not, you are in contempt. And, being in contempt can get you directly to jail.
That’s exactly what happened to Paulette Martin, the Detroit court reporter.
Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny ordered Martin to serve a 30-day contempt sentence in the Wayne County jail for repeatedly missing deadlines to produce a transcript.
Contempt of court is a very serious matter. Generally, under Michigan law, the court shall have the power to punish for contempt of court any person who willfully violates, neglects, or refuses to obey and perform any order or process the court has made or issued. Further, a court can impose probation, community service, and all other sanctions as permitted by statute. If you are ever found to be in contempt, you should call your attorney.