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Judge denies ‘ex parte’ allegation, cautions lawyer

U.S. District Judge James Jones minced no words denying lawyer John Flannery’s claim that the judge had secret meetings with prosecutors in the Paul Thomson cocaine case.  “Mr. Flannery’s assertion is outrageously false and unfounded,” Jones wrote in an order Thursday.

Flannery – who is defending the Winchester lawyer accused of buying cocaine from a client – has repeatedly suggested prosecutorial misconduct in one form or another. In a letter filed Tuesday, Flannery said the court record indicated secret communications with the judge he was not privy to.

In an order filed Thursday,  Jones said there were no substantive sealed documents in the file and the gaps reflected only administrative actions in the clerk’s office.  Jones said Flannery might have done more investigation before firing off a letter accusing the judge of misconduct

“I have been lenient with attorney Flannery in this case, believing that his conduct on occasion was the result of either misguided zeal or inexperience,” Jones wrote. “I caution him, however, that my patience is not inexhaustible. I will not tolerate further unprofessional conduct, as exhibited by his letter.”

In a footnote, Jones ominously cites a 2005 Virginia Supreme Court case upholding a lawyer’s suspension for a baseless accusation of misconduct against a judge.

By Peter Vieth

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