A Norfolk lawyer who publicly taunted a criminal defendant as a “snitch” in a courthouse hallway has been cleared of ethics charges for his behavior.
A panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board decided the bar had not proven a rule violation by clear and convincing evidence for Herman C. Smith III’s 2012 tirade at the Norfolk courthouse.
“Let everybody in Young’s Park know he a snitch,” Smith yelled loudly, according to the state’s evidence against Smith. Smith had just learned the target of his ire had agreed to testify against Smith’s client in a robbery case.
Smith pleaded guilty to contempt of court for his actions and agreed to a $500 fine.
A VSB disciplinary subcommittee certified charges against Smith for committing a “criminal or deliberately wrongful act” and for acting on behalf of a client to harass or maliciously injure another.
The Disciplinary Board rejected those charges at a Sept. 26 meeting.
Smith agreed to a public reprimand for failing to keep three clients advised on the status of their cases.
Corrected Oct. 3 to reflect that Smith did not agree that he used the cited language.