A Santa Barbara judge has accused attorney Darryl Genis of contempt of court, alleging that Genis “fiddled” with a prosecutor’s notes and took pictures of documents during a recess in court last month.
The complaint was filed against Genis, a defense attorney who specializes in driving-under-the-influence cases on the Central Coast, late last week — nearly a year after he was convicted in a separate local contempt of court case.
Genis told Noozhawk on Tuesday he was not guilty of the charges against him, which allege he abused the court process by willfully deceiving the court, violated court rules by photographing opposing counsel’s trial notes and interfered with those trial notes.
He is scheduled to appear in Department 4 of Santa Barbara County Superior Court next Friday to show cause for why he should not be found guilty.
“When Judge (Donna) Geck hears the matter, my lawyer will make clear the factual and legal reasons,” Genis said in an email.
During trial proceedings on June 9, Deputy District Attorney Justin Greene alleged that Genis deliberately disturbed or fiddled with his papers on the counsel table during a break, rearranging them.
In the complaint, Judge Brian Hill says he asked Genis four separate times if the accusations were true, and Genis answered no.
“Does that deserve a response?” Genis said, according to courtroom minutes attached to the filing.
“On the fourth inquiry, Mr. Genis ‘categorically denied’ any interference with the prosecutor’s papers,’” Hill wrote.
The court indicated it would review a videotape of the recess at a later date, and footage allegedly found that Genis did approach the prosecutor’s table.
“He appeared to read and rearrange some documents, then removed his cell phone and photographed something on the prosecutors table,” Hill wrote. “Mr. Genis then proceeded to hide a document under a larger stack of papers.”
The filing alleged Genis has previously been ordered not to take photographs without court permission, specifically on May 17, 2012, and June 11, 2012,
If the judge finds Genis guilty, he could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000 — the same amount the attorney paid the court last July — or face jail time.
The contempt charges come as Genis still waits for final say from a State Bar Court, where he has been accused of moral turpitude, making a false and malicious State Bar complaint and for failing to obey court orders.
A State Bar judge threw out two of those charges, recommending Genis be suspended for 90 days, placed on probation for two years, and attend anger-management counseling. State Bar prosecutors appealed that February decision, as did Genis, who asked that all counts be dismissed.
While both sides wait, Genis continues to practice law.