Court upholds direct criminal contempt ruling against public defender

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — The Mississippi Supreme Court is upholding a direct criminal contempt ruling against a Hinds County public defender who was representing a mother charged with capital murder.

The state Supreme Court heard reviewed the case of Christopher Routh against the State of Mississippi and affirmed a county judge’s ruling.

Routh was representing Loren Shell-Blackwell, a suspect charged with capital murder in connection with the death of 81-year-old Lee Kendrick.

Loren Blackwell (PHOTO: WJTV)

Kendrick was found dead in an abandoned apartment complex. Authorities said Blackwell’s DNA was found at the scene. Another person was arrested and charged with charged with capital murder as well.

Lee Kendrick

Routh was found in contempt after disputing the judge’s ruling during Blackwell’s bond hearing– her bond was denied.

Routh claimed that the state had no real evidence that linked her to the crime. On the contrary, the State said her DNA was at the scene and that she gave incriminating statements to law enforcement.

Before the hearing, she had been released on bond and was placed on house arrest because she was pregnant. The baby was born and was in court with Blackwell the day of the bond hearing.

The public defendant argued that his client told him that the child had a digestive condition that required his mother to breast feed him. The document that was presented as evidence as a hospital discharge form, that said the baby should be fed brast milk or formula.

Based on this, the judge decided to deny Blackwell’s bond.

The document states that the judge was done taking any further comments, but Routh stood up to dispute the judge’s ruling. The judge said he also refused his order to sit down. The judge ordered Routh to spend the rest of the day, up until 5 p.m. in jail.

The State Supreme Court said that he judge was within his authority to find Routh in direct criminal contempt, so the affirmed the ruling.

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