Michael Grace

Michael Grace 

A Clarke County attorney is behind bars after being found in contempt of court Monday morning.

Michael Grace was taken to jail after receiving a bench opinion and order from Chancery Judge Larry Primeaux. Clarke County Sheriff Todd Kemp said Grace was taken into custody around 9:20 a.m and will be held at the Clarke County jail for 24 hours. 

Grace is a candidate for district attorney of the 10th Circuit Court.

Primeaux issued the order after Grace failed to appear in court, according the court papers. 

Court documents said Grace sent his secretary to court instead, who told Primeaux that Grace was "running late." 

"This is unacceptable," Primeaux stated in the opinion.  

The order came after Grace withdrew from representing a client with an intellectual disability in a paternity and custody case last month. 

Court documents said Grace failed to notify the court that he did not want to represent the client on Aug. 28. If the court had known he wanted to be recused from representing the client, the court would not have allowed him to do so, according to court documents.  

In court papers, Primeaux said Grace put his client at a disadvantage and failed in his duty in protecting his client's interests.

Grace stated in court papers that the client was not paying him enough, but the court said that was not an excuse.

Grace was later ordered to appear in court on Sept. 12 to explain why he shouldn't be held in contempt for abandoning his client. 

Grace would face sanctions such as jail time or fines if he did not appear, according to court documents. 

Grace did appear in court on Sept. 12, but provided no explanation to clarify the situation. The court found that Grace violated the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct by jeopardizing the interest of his client and was in criminal contempt.

Grace was ordered to appear in court on Sept. 19 and ordered to refund $2,000 to the client. He was also ordered pay a $250 fine. 

In addition to the contempt charge, the court will file a bar complaint against Grace, according to the order filed Monday. 

Grace, who was in custody and unavailable for comment on Monday, was also fined $500. Grace is representing himself, according to Kemp. 

Grace will face Kassie Coleman in the Nov. 5 general election for district attorney.

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