As a defense attorney, D. Scott Perrine is a frequent jail house visitor. Yesterday he became a guest.
A judge in Dauphin County had Perrine arrested and hauled off to the county jail in Harrisburg for contempt of court. The offense? He stole the court's time - not once, but twice, in the same week.
His defense for missing court? Perrine says he's been tied up on the now-infamous May 5 police-beating case. Apparently, Dauphin County Common Pleas Judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr., a former state trooper, wasn't sympathetic.
On Monday, Perrine failed to appear in Clark's courtroom for a scheduled jury trial in which the Philly lawyer was supposed to defend a man charged with aggravated assault and burglary. Perrine had called the court administrator to ask for a postponement but never filed a motion for continuance, according to Deputy District Attorney James P. Barker.
Yesterday, Perrine was slated to go before Clark and explain why he missed Monday's court date. At 9 a.m., with Perrine nowhere in sight, Clark issued a bench warrant for his arrest, Barker said. When a winded and stressed Perrine arrived at the Dauphin County Courthouse about 9:30 a.m. after missing an earlier train from Philadelphia, sheriff's officers locked him up.
"We have had lawyers held in contempt for failing to appear before," Barker said. "But they don't often go to jail because normally they show up for the contempt hearing . . . It's really out of the ordinary, obviously."
Judge Clark did not return a phone call and Perrine was unable to be reached because he was behind bars. Barker said the judge was too busy with other cases yesterday to hold a bail hearing for Perrine. A hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. today. Until then, Perrine was being held in a segregation unit, where prisoners wear yellow jumpers instead of orange ones, Barker said.
Word of Perrine's arrest spread quickly through the courthouse and the jail, where workers expressed surprise and amusement. (The Philadelphia Daily News)
Consider me one of the ones on the "amusement" side. Note to Perrine: Judges outside the confines of Philadelphia actually enforce the law!