Judge requests contempt over courtroom insult

Steve Garrison
Eric Morrow

FARMINGTON – A Farmington judge has asked that a local attorney be held in contempt of court on allegations he insulted a bailiff.

Judge Daylene Marsh alleges in the petition for contempt, filed Jan. 4 in district court, that attorney Eric Morrow "failed to demonstrate respect for court staff" by calling a bailiff an "a--hole" and a "liar."

Morrow allegedly leveled the insults at the bailiff on Dec. 7 inside Marsh's courtroom at the Farmington District Court, 851 Andrea Drive, according to the petition.

Morrow is ordered to appear in district court on Feb. 1 to explain why he should not be held in contempt and fined, the petition states.

Morrow admitted Friday he called the bailiff, David Baker, a liar, but said he could not remember whether he called him an "a--hole."

Morrow said he was at the courthouse on either Dec. 4 or Dec. 7 — he does not remember what day the incident happened — for a domestic hearing. During the hearing, Morrow said he was attempting to negotiate a deal between his client and the adversarial party when Baker interfered with the negotiation.

"He interfered in my ability to negotiate with the other side when we weren't on the record," Morrow said. "He cussed at me and called me names. I responded. He lied to his judge about what happened to cover up his own conduct."

Morrow said the judge pulled him aside and scolded him after the hearing, and he assumed the matter was settled.

Neither Marsh nor Baker could be reached for comment Friday.

Morrow said he would file his own complaint against Baker with the New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts.

Morrow said he may have been held in contempt previously by Judge John Dean. Morrow said he and another attorney got into an argument inside the courtroom approximately eight years ago, and Dean became frustrated and fined everyone involved $100. Morrow said Dean later rescinded the contempt order against him, and he never paid a fine.

"In 21 years, I've never really been found in contempt before," Morrow said. "I have never had issues with the bailiffs before."

Morrow did lose his contract with the local public defender's office in July 2014 after allegations surfaced that he requested $5,000 in cash from the family of an indigent client accused of murder.

Morrow said the money was used to hire his co-counsel in the case, Shannon Pettus, which was confirmed by the client's father. Morrow and Pettus are partners at the Morrow & Pettus Law Firm.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.