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In re L.G.

March 31, 1994

IN RE: L.G., APPELLANT


Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; (Hon. Joseph M.F. Ryan, Jr., Trial Judge)

Before Farrell, Wagner, and King, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: King

KING, Associate Judge: L.G., a juvenile, appeals from an order of the Superior Court summarily adjudging him in contempt of court for using profanity on three occasions while appearing as a witness for the defense in a criminal trial. L.G. principally contends that the finding of contempt is not supported by the evidence. We agree and, accordingly, we reverse and order that the contempt charge be dismissed.

I.

On November 16, 1992, sixteen-year-old L.G. testified for the defense at the murder trial of his uncle, who was an adult. *fn1 During cross-examination, the prosecutor attempted to establish that the uncle was directly involved in the murder and that L.G. had lied in his direct examination to protect the uncle. The first use of profanity occurred after the prosecutor asked L.G. about his initial confrontation with the deceased:

THE GOVERNMENT: But you are [L.G.]. Right?

L.G.: Yes, I am [L.G.].

THE GOVERNMENT: And you always got your weapon with you. Right[?]

L.G.: It was in the car at the time.

THE GOVERNMENT: You just told [defense counsel] a few minutes ago, you always have your gun with you. Right? You said --

L.G.: I said it was in the car, motherfucker. Don't be coming hollering at me like that, man.

Judge Ryan said nothing to L.G., and the prosecutor continued her questioning.

The second incident occurred, some twelve pages later in the transcript, as the prosecutor pressed L.G. on the inconsistencies in his account compared with his uncle's testimony:

THE GOVERNMENT: My question is, sir, is if your uncle said that the two of you went inside, came out and sat on these railings, ...


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