Louisville, Kentucky – A University of Louisville police officer was found in contempt of court after she refused to show up to court on two occasions, telling the judge she was too busy.
Kristen Byrd ticketed a doctor for a traffic violation that he decided to contest in court. He showed up but officer Byrd did not. Now the case morphed into a bench trial, and Jefferson District Judge Stephanie Pearce Burke subpoenaed Byrd. For a second time, everyone showed up to court on time but Byrd was looking like a no show.
While everyone was in the courtroom, the judge ordered prosecutors to call Byrd to find out where she was and why she was not in court. They did so multiple times but she would not answer her phone. So the judge called her personally. This time Byrd answered and told the judge, with an attitude, that she was too busy to come to court. When the judge informed her she had been ordered to appear via a subpoena, Byrd once again said she was too busy.
The traffic case was dismissed and because of her apparent disregard for the court and wasting everyone’s time, including the defendant’s as well as taxpayer money, the judge found Byrd in contempt of court.
Now facing her own charge and possible jail, Byrd suddenly found court important enough to attend. She ended up getting her ass handed to her in front of a semi-packed courtroom for about 10 straight minutes. Not in a Judge Judy way that I would have liked, but in a clear, professional way that was almost as satisfying.
“I wonder why you think you should be treated different than a defendant,” the judge asked Byrd at the hearing where Byrd was told her actions were an embarrassment to all police officers in the county. “You are not above the law.”
She told Byrd that if she couldn’t be bothered to show up to court over citations she wrote, then she shouldn’t be writing citations at all. She also told her that, as a police officer, she is held to a higher standard and if she can’t live up to those standards she should look for another job.
In the end, the judge did not throw Byrd in jail, which is what she said she wanted to do initially, but only because the judge knows Byrd’s superiors and is confident they will handle things internally. So no jail time for Byrd, but she was fined $200 plus another $134 in court cost.
Byrd apologized to the judge and said that at the time she did not know she was speaking to a judge, but rather one of the prosecutors. The judge said that’s still no excuse. They are all on the same team, she said, here to serve the community and uphold justice. She added that any similar future conduct from Byrd would end a lot differently.
“I will not hesitate to put you in jail,” the judge told Byrd.
Check out the full video here, where at the 7:10 mark, a woman in the gallery is practically dragged out of the courtroom.Tags: contempt, Crime, judge, Kristen Byrd, Police, Stephanie Pearce Burke