- Associated Press - Friday, May 27, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A union representing Las Vegas defense attorneys is backing a deputy public defender who was handcuffed in court for failing to quit arguing to keep a client out of jail.

The Clark County Defenders Union calls Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen’s decision to have Zohra Bakhtary taken into custody for several minutes last Monday “unreasonable and unprecedented.”

Hafen told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he ordered Bakhtary taken into custody to teach her a lesson about courtroom decorum and etiquette.

Bakhtary, who has worked about once a week in Hafen’s courtroom for three years, told the newspaper she didn’t act unprofessionally.

“I simply wanted the Court to listen to my argument and consider it before remanding my client,” she said (https://bit.ly/1X0ob0X).

A court transcript showed Bakhtary kept talking and the judge warned her several times that she faced being held in contempt for interrupting while he tried to rule in a probation violation case.

“Handcuffing an attorney who is merely doing her job … is simply improper,” 12 union board members said in a letter signed Wednesday. “Judge Hafen was wrong.”

Ryan Bashor, union president, said the group represents about 105 deputy Clark County public defenders and special public defenders.

The union also complains that the court failed to have a standard courtroom video and audio recording system activated.

Hafen told the Review-Journal he doesn’t use the system because of potential technological glitches. The official court record is the court reporter transcript.

The defense group said that with Bakhtary in handcuffs, her client was denied his right to an attorney

Hafen sentenced the man to six months in jail for being arrested on a theft charge while on probation.

The prosecutor in the case, Jake Villani, said Bakhtary had argued for her client and was interrupting the judge’s ruling.

“The judge gave her ample opportunity and warning before taking action,” he said.

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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, https://www.lvrj.com

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