An Augusta attorney who left a client to fend for himself in the middle of a trial apologized Tuesday for his behavior.
Attorney Christopher Nicholson returned to Richmond County State Court to make amends by publicly apologizing to Assistant Solicitor Kelly McIntyre, Sheriff Cpl. Bonnie Kalbskopf and Judge David D. Watkins.
The apology, a $500 donation to the Richmond County Humane Society and one day in jail put an end to the saga Nicholson began on Aug. 2 during a bench trial before Watkins.
“I have practiced law for 37 years and tried to do what’s best for my clients,” Nicholson said. He never intended to offend anyone in court, he said.
Nicholson’s behavior on Aug. 2, including snide comments to the judge and a verbal attack on the prosecutor, climaxed with Nicholson walking out on client Matthew Dunham instead of presenting a defense. Dunham was convicted but Watkins has since granted a motion for a new trial.
Watkins ordered Nicholson to appear back in court on Aug. 25 to explain why he shouldn’t be held in contempt. Nicholson, who had asked for a delay in the hearing, didn’t show up and Watkins found him in contempt of court.
Watkins ordered Nicholson’s immediate arrest and imposed a 20-day jail sentence and $500 fine when the attorney further failed to comply with a judicial order.
Instead of turning himself in, Nicholson left town, telling a sheriff’s officer that he was filing an appeal of Watkins’ contempt order.
The Court of Appeals of Georgia issued a stay in the case based on Nicholson’s statement he intended to appeal.
Tuesday’s apology ends the contempt matter. Nicholson wrote a check for the charity Tuesday. He will be allowed to remain free and report to the jail on his own to serve his one day behind bars.