Lawyer charged with contempt after abandoning client: "I bet I don't appear again"

Louisville lawyer Shameka O'Neil faces a contempt citation after ditching her client during a remarkable virtual hearing last week. Calling into the court session, she claimed her client suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness only to be corrected by the client himself. Then O'Neil asked to withdraw from the misdemeanor case, and was denied by the judge. She ranted about her client for a little while and made clear she wasn't going to do it anyway—"I bet I don't appear again"—and logged off.

I transcribed the good bit below. Note that O'Neil is on audio-only.

O'NEIL: Ma'am, I've been to the jail five times. He's flooding the toilets. He's causing disturbances. He's fighting. He's been beat up, he's—

JUDGE KAELIN: You are now disparaging your client to this court!

O'NEIL: Okay, well the bottom line is, my advice to him is to take the deal. If he's not going to do that then i'm withdrawing from this case.

JUDGE KAELIN: Your motion to withdraw is denied.

O'NEIL: I bet I don't appear again. Goodbye!

The reaction of Tracy Davis, another lawyer on the call, perfectly sums up court watchers' general thinking about O'Neil's conduct:

But wait, there's more! O'Neil later rejoined Zoom Court to threaten the judge.

"Mark my words: If you take adverse action against me, you better be sure about it, because you made some mistakes here today," O'Neil told Kaelin. "I will attempt to hold you civilly or however responsible that I can, and that's my word."

"I don't have no mental illness, I'm from Florida." — Curtis Burns