Criminal Defense Lawyer Jailed for Courtroom Antics
|Tim Barkovic courtesy Freep|
Over the years, our trips East-side have included appearing before long-serving Judge Edward Servitto; he is a very even-tempered judge who does not appear to let the chaos and angst from his criminal call affect his calm demeanor.
Also over the years, we've become acquainted with a larger-than-life figure and East-side regular: the iconic criminal defense attorney Timothy J. Barkovic. Last week the paths of Judge Servitto and Attorney Barkovic intersected, as they have many times over the past 15-years; this time Barkovic wound-up heading toward the same jail he usually visits in order to advice one of his clients charged with a capital offense.
The funny thing about our friend Tim Barkovic is that his name would often come up in the back rooms of the courthouse, among the detectives working their cases. One or two of these detectives would describe incidents where they either punched Barkovic or slammed him into the wall of an interrogation room, or some other "hands-on" incident which resulted from what they described as Barkovic overstepping his bounds.
Barkovic was known to push those boundaries. Whether he's in a cop shop, jail or courtroom, everyone knows when Barkovic is "in the house".
He usually maintained a boarderline-disrespectful demeanor toward any judge not flowing his client's way; he had a strong dislike for prosecutors; and he downright detested cops. From what we gathered, the feeling was mutual.
For example, take a look at the Freep's file photo of Mr. Barkovic. Looks like someone, probably a cop, connected a fist to his East-side mug.
You are never going to see Tim Barkovic at a gathering of an Inn of Court, where the stated mission is to foster civility among lawyers and judges. The challenge to our profession is to maintain civility within the context of adversarial proceedings.
In Barkovic's case, during a felony trial, Judge Servitto overheard a heated discussion, and Barkovic's loud voice, outside a room where a jury was deliberating. Worried that the jury may have overheard the discussion about the case, the judge called Barkovic and the prosecutor into the court room and asked about the discussion on the record.
When the defense lawyer refused Judge Servitto's repeated requests to disclose what was said in the back hallway, he was found in contempt of court and sentenced to 20-days jail, to be served upon the completion of the jury trial.
Although Barkovic's actions were notable and caught the Freep's attention -they've been tracking his antics- we here at the Law Blogger doubt that he'll ever actually see the inside of a jail cell. On the other hand, as officer's of the court, aware of a judge's powers to maintain the decorum and civility of the courtroom, sometimes contempt powers must be exercised to prevent an overzealous lawyer from running away with the proceeding.