Grace held in contempt of courtBy BY JENNIFER BOZEMAN,
Local Attorney Michael Grace was ordered to serve 24 hours in jail and fined $500 by Judge Larry Primeaux after Grace failed to appear in Chancery Court Monday.
Grace was taken into custody at the Clarke County Courthouse Monday morning and brought to the Clarke County Jail to serve his 24 hours sentence. He was released at 9:10 a.m. Tuesday.
Grace was hired for a custody case as an attorney for a woman who has an intellectual disability and was unable to represent herself. At the final hearing of this case on August 29, Attorney Grace failed to appear in court. The opposing attorney advised the court that Grace withdrew from the case the afternoon before. Grace failed to appear to alert the court of his actions and did not file the paperwork within the time limit stated by law. According to court documents, if the court would have been aware, they would have not allowed Grace to withdraw because it put his client at a disadvantage and did not protect the interests of his client. Grace claimed his client had not paid him enough money in which the the court did not recognize this as an excuse.
Judge Primeaux ordered Grace to appear in court September 12, 2019, to explain himself and why he shouldn’t be fined, incarcerated, and/or have a bar complaint filed against him.
On September 12, Grace did appear in court with an explanation but no proof, and the court found him in criminal contempt. According to court documents, “The court finds that his neglect of his client’s business violated the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct and jeopardized the interests of his client.”
The court ordered Grace to refund his client’s money, pay a $250 fine, and appear in court again September 23 as a follow up to make sure everything was done.
On Monday, September 23, Grace once again failed to appear in court to prove his compliance with the order. He sent his secretary who said he was “running late” according to Primeaux’s bench opinion and order. The judge then fined Grace an additional $500 and sentenced him to 24 hours in the county jail. Primeaux then stated a bar complaint would be filed against Grace.
Grace had no response to The Tribune as of presstime Tuesday.
Grace is running for the District Attorney of the 10th District.