Virginia judge faces backlash after contempt finding against witness

Virginia News

Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, right, speaks Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Leesburg, Va., about her concerns over the contempt-of-court citation issued by Circuit Judge James Fisher against a prosecution witness after the judge determined she was intoxicated on the stand while she testified in a trial against her alleged abuser. Critics of the judge say his actions will deter victims from coming forward. (AP Photo/Matthew Barakat)

LEESBURG, Va. (AP) — A northern Virginia judge has rejected motions asking him to reconsider a 10-day jail sentence for contempt of court he imposed on a woman he believed was intoxicated when she testified at trial.

Katie Orndoff received the sentence from Loudoun County Judge James Fisher earlier this month. She had been testifying in a domestic assault trial against her boyfriend, who was accused of punching her.

The judge stopped the trial when he believed Orndoff was acting erratically, and questioned her about drug use. He sent her to jail for contempt of court after she admitted smoking marijuana.

At a courthouse rally Thursday, prosecutors and activists said the judge’s harsh treatment was unwarranted and will deter other victims from coming forward.

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