Texas Attorney Must Pay Fine After Court Tosses Appeal in Contempt Case
Angry about lawyer O.W. “Buddy” Loyd II missing court dates, 402nd District Judge Jeffrey Fletcher shot off an email to the attorney and others, alleging it was a lie that anyone with the court had excused Loyd from a court appearance.
A Tyler attorney who missed court dates, drawing scorn and accusations of lying from a Texas district judge, will not get a chance to appeal a civil contempt-of-court finding and $500 fine.
The Sixth Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a party can’t bring a direct appeal from a contempt finding, meaning the court lacked jurisdiction to consider criminal-defense attorney O.W. “Buddy” Loyd II’s arguments.
The court therefore dismissed his appeal, leaving the $500 fine standing.
Loyd’s contempt-of-court proceeding arose after he missed multiple court dates in the 402nd District Court of Wood County. On one occasion, the court coordinator called to locate him, and Loyd said that someone in the office had told him he didn’t have to appear that day. Angry about Loyd’s absence, 402nd District Judge Jeffrey Fletcher shot off an email to the attorney and others, alleging it was a lie that anyone with the court had excused Loyd’s appearance.
“Your failure to appear as ordered, and dishonesty towards my staff reflects your utter disregard for your duties as a lawyer, your lack of candor with my staff and your conduct unbecoming the profession,” Fletcher wrote in the email, and fined Loyd $500.
Loyd didn’t pay the $500, and a contempt-of-court proceeding followed.
Hopkins County Court-at-Law Judge Amy Smith, the visiting judge who presided, found Loyd in civil contempt for missing court dates but also found that Fletcher’s accusations that Loyd had lied were made out of anger and were unfounded.
“Mr. Loyd was never given the opportunity to apologize, explain or make amends to the court before Judge Fletcher emailed him with these accusations,” Smith’s findings and conclusions said.
Longview solo practitioner Gena Bunn, who represented the state in Loyd’s appeal, declined to comment.
Loyd’s appellate attorney, Tyler solo practitioner James Huggler Jr., and his trial lawyer, Boren & Mims partner Bobby Mims of Tyler, each didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.
Previously, Mims told Texas Lawyer that Loyd was in an auto collision a year and a half ago and suffered a head injury that impacted his cognition, which might explain why he missed court.
“In the email, [Judge Fletcher] called Buddy a liar,” Mims said. “Buddy is a very well-thought-of lawyer here, so we contested that. I felt the judge was very rude to the other lawyers. He was imperious, almost.”