Contempt Charge Upheld for Defendant Who Sent Judge Nasty Note

Note to defendants: Don't tell the judge to kiss the body part you sit on.

The South Carolina Court of Appeals has upheld a judge's contempt order against a St. Matthews woman who signed a court document with just such an instruction and told a probation officer to return the document to the judge.

Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein found Judith Law in contempt and ordered her to serve 90 extra days. Law challenged the ruling, saying the contemptuous behavior happened outside the judge's view.

"No matter where Law signed the revocation order, her conduct was in the presence of the judge," the Appeals Court wrote in its decision last month.

In 2003, Law pleaded guilty to grand larceny and burglary charges and was sentenced to five years, suspended to time served. She also was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to pay $300 in restitution.

In September 2005, Law admitted violating her probation, which resulted in Goodstein reinstating the five-year sentence, according to the Appeals Court decision.

While signing that probation revocation order, Law decided to tell the judge what she could kiss. Typically that document would not go back to the judge, but when this one did, Goodstein ordered a hearing, found Law in contempt and sentenced her to 90 days on top of her remaining sentence.