Ex parte H. Chase Dearman.Annotate this Case
H. Chase Dearman petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for certiorari review of the Court of Criminal Appeals' decision affirming, without an opinion, the Mobile Circuit Court's order finding Dearman in direct contempt. On August 30, 2018, Dearman, an attorney, was representing James Markese Wright at Wright's probation-revocation hearing before the circuit court. Dearman attempted to make an objection on the record when the court prevented it; the trial judge ejected Dearman from the courtroom and ended proceedings. Dearman filed a motion requesting that the circuit court vacate its August 30, 2018, order and requested a hearing on the matter. In his motion, Dearman alleged that he was not given notice of the specific contemptuous conduct and a reasonable opportunity to present evidence or mitigating circumstances as required under the Alabama Rules of Evidence. The circuit court denied Dearman's motion; the Court of Criminal Appeals remanded for the circuit court to comply with the Rules. After a hearing, at which Dearman was present, the circuit court stated that it found Dearman in direct contempt "because of the challenge [to] judicial authority as shown in the record on appeal" and that Dearman's "behavior necessitated immediate and prompt punishment; i.e., removal from the courtroom." Dearman was then given the opportunity to present evidence or argument regarding excusing or mitigating circumstances. On return to remand, the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the circuit court's decision by unpublished memorandum. The Alabama Supreme Court found, after review of the circuit court record, that Dearman was appropriately attempting to prosecute his client's cause. Because the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the circuit court on a record "devoid of any evidence in support of the circuit court's finding Dearman in direct contempt," the appellate court's order conflicted with controlling case law. Judgment was reversed and remanded for further proceedings.