Local Hattiesburg Attorney, Mary Lee Holmes filed a motion in federal court which sought to have Linda Bolton released on bond pending appeal. The motion accused prosecutors of "defrauding the court" and accused Judge Starrett of "deep seeded prejudice" against Linda Bolton. Holmes withdrew the motion the next day, but it was too late to avoid sanctions.
Holmes was fined $5,000, but in addition to the monetary fine, Judge Starrett strongly admonished Ms. Holmes for her filing. The document that led to Holmes's sanctions can be viewed below. The full story can be read by clicking here.
In Judge Starrett's order he ruled,
"Though Holmes is a newly licensed attorney, there is no grace period for new attorneys with respect to the ethical obligations all attorneys must meet--to their clients, to the courts, and to the community at large. While Holmes may have been emotionally invested in this case, that does not relieve her from her duty of competence, which requires a certain level of objectivity to reasonably understand the law and factual background of the case in the representation of her client."
Judge Starrett goes on to say,
Instead of attempting to reach this understanding, Holmes allowed her emotions to cloud her judgement and willfully filed a pleading that attacked both the integrity of this Court and a seasoned Assistant United States Attorney. Her accusations were not supported by any part of the record, which she readily admits, and were never advanced by any of the more experienced attorneys that were involved in the case for much longer than Holmes.
Judge Starrett then brings the admonishment of Holmes home when he states,
"Holmes's careless allegations of prejudice and deceit were an apparent attempt to rekindle the baseless allegations of the unfair targeting the African American community and the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a fire. The court cannot let her actions go unsanctioned. The Court appreciated Holmes's apologies and acknowledgement that her allegations were factually baseless, but she cannot unring a rung bell. Her actions may have been motivated by emotions, but that does not negate their willfulness.
Courts, judges, and attorneys are subject to criticism, and citizens have the right to speak out against them. However, lawyers are held to a higher standard. Their criticisms, when made in court pleadings, must be factually based and not intended to falsely impugn the integrity of the judicial system."
Judge Starrett rules,
"Here, the integrity of the judicial system mandates a sanction harsh enough to deter attorneys from making baseless allegations of prejudice whenever the Court makes an unfavorable ruling against their clients. As such, the Court hereby sanctions Holmes in the amount of $5,000, to be paid within two weeks of the date of this order."
Holmes must pay the penalty by September, 1st, 2017.