Lawyer’s Misconduct May Kill Excessive Force Case

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A lawyer’s numerous mistakes could tank her client’s excessive force case related to his arrest for indecent exposure, a federal judge ruled.
     Kevin Winkey allegedly endured five minutes of beating by two D.C. police officers who found him one night in March 2008 in the driver’s seat of a parked car with his pants pulled down and a woman’s head in his lap.
     Winkey conceded that he had initially refused to follow the officers’ instructions. He said he was charged with assaulting a police officer and threats to do bodily harm, but that the charges were dismissed for want of prosecution.
     U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton warned Winkey on Thursday that his attorney’s “noncompliant behavior” has put the case on thin ice.
     “You are advised that your attorney in this case, Anitha W. Johnson, has repeatedly failed to comply with orders of this court,” the opinion states.
     “As a result of Ms. Johnson’s actions, your case is in danger of dismissal by the court,” he added.
     Walton said he had already warned Johnson about her misconduct when he declined to dismiss the case for previous noncompliance in October 2012.
     Since then, Johnson was late in filing an opposition to the cops’ motion for summary judgment. Johnson also moved for time extension a month after the judge entered an order prohibiting extensions of time.
     “The defendants ask the court to dismiss this case in light of Ms. Johnson’s most recent transgressions – her late filing of the opposition brief and improper motion for extension of time,” Walton wrote. “Although the court is tempted to do so, the District of Columbia Circuit has set a high bar for involuntary dismissal based solely on attorney misconduct.”
     Johnson must pay a $500 penalty and reimburse the police officers for costs they incurred preparing their opposition of the errant motions, according to the ruling.
     The judge also advised Winkey to talk to Johnson, ensuring her future compliance or to arrange new counsel. Not doing so puts him in danger of losing his case, the judge warned.

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