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Name: People v. Pigage
Case #: G029933
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 10/30/2003
Subsequent History: Modif. without chg in jmt. on denial of rehrg. 11/21/03

During appellant’s trial for possession of methamphetamine, the prosecutor disparaged defense counsel and commented on appellant’s absence from the trial. He was ordered not to, and continued to do so in violation of the court’s orders. On appeal, the Attorney General took the position that the prosecutor’s legal position was “right.” The appellate court affirmed the conviction, because most of the objectionable conduct took place outside the presence of the jury, but publicly condemned the prosecutor and ordered the opinion sent to the State Bar. It is the imperative duty of an attorney to respectfully yield to the rulings of the court, whether right or wrong. The prosecutor’s continued bickering with the court and threats of disobedience were not mere advocacy, and his decision to defy the court’s order was outrageous misconduct. Further, the trial court did not err by continuing the trial in appellant’s absence, when he became reluctant to come to court because of threats and a fear of being placed in custody. Appellant’s justification for his absence was insufficient. Since he voluntarily absented himself from the proceedings, the court’s decision to continue in his absence did not violate his right to be present at trial.