Veteran New Orleans criminal defense attorney Martin Regan was found in contempt of court Friday (Jan. 20) and ordered to pay a $100 fine in the form of a donation to the Louisiana SPCA.
Criminal District Judge Karen Herman ordered the sanction benefitting the animal welfare organization in response to Regan’s contemptuous conduct in last month’s murder trial of defendant Brandon Guidry. Guidry was convicted Dec. 7 of murdering musician Bruce Tims, and on Friday was sentenced to life in prison.
Despite what the judge found to be numerous instances of inappropriate comments by Regan — made both in and out of jurors’ presence during Guidry’s three-day trial — the panel needed only 45 minutes of deliberations to render an 11-1 verdict finding Regan’s client guilty of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in connection with a French Quarter double-shooting on March 21, 2015.
Regan apologized to the judge Friday after Guidry’s sentence was rendered. But his contrition seemed hollow as he launched into a rambling explanation of his “sheer frustration” with the court’s rulings during the trial. But, he added, “I didn’t intentionally and on purpose act contemptuous.”
Regan exhausted the judge’s patience again Friday, causing Herman to interrupt him to ask, “Are we going to hear anything related to contempt, rather than you just trying to pepper the record?” Herman made it clear she would not be litigating the same issues again after having already denied Regan’s motion for a new trial.
“I accept your apology,” Herman said. “But I feel, once again, that you repeatedly try to control the narrative as to what takes place, while you continue to miss the point. In reality, from the beginning of the trial in voir dire (jury selection), I recall at least 20 separate times I admonished you to not make inappropriate statements in front of the jury, and to ask proper questions of a witness rather than launch into your own narrative testimony and then finish with a question at the end.
“I spoke to you about this privately in chambers, out of respect for you. Then I had to do it at the bench, still out of respect for you. Then it got to the point that it eventually had to be said in front of the jury. I’m going to rely on the transcript I have about you making flip comments to the jury about a witness’ testimony, and the court asking you not to ask questions in an inappropriate manner.”
Regan is the third attorney this month to be found in contempt of court at Tulane and Broad. Judge Laurie A. White found state prosecutor Jason Napoli in contempt of court on Jan. 5 over a text messaging dispute. Judge Darryl Derbigny found criminal defense lawyer Gary Wainwright in contempt on Jan. 13 for what he deemed inappropriate laughter and commentary during the aggravated burglary and attempted murder trial of his client Lottie Hibbler.