PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Palm Beach County assistant who was facing
a contempt-of-court charge recently had the charge against her
dropped, but she still faces professional-misconduct allegations.
In December 2015, according to a Sept. 23, 2016 report
by the Sun-Sentinel, Circuit Judge Jack Schramm Cox accused Elizabeth
Ramsey of violating an order banning anyone from using transcripts of
phone calls made by a jail inmate, Frederick Cobia, and of putting
her finger down her throat in a “gagging gesture” while a
prosecutor questioned a witness during a hearing involving a murder
case on Dec. 30, 2015.
The matter in question came up after Ramsey was preparing her
defense of 24-year-old Jamal Smith, who was charged with first-degree
murder and robbery. Ramsey was challenging Cobia’s statements about
an alleged murder confession by Smith.
Cox sought judicial discipline of Ramsey, accusing her of
undermining “the public’s confidence in our system of justice”
while raising questions “as to her fitness as a lawyer,” the Sun
In Cox’s testimony, he stated that he was “convinced based
upon his experience” that Ramsey had set out to deliberately
intimidate and humiliate the witness with the phone-call recording.
However, in a Dec. 23, 2016 Sun
Sentinel report, Circuit Judge Peter D. Blanc — who presided
over the non-trial jury for Ramsey on Dec. 2, 2015 — dismissed the
misdemeanor charge against Ramsey.
Donald Richardson, the prosecutor who filed the request to dismiss
the charge, said that there was “no evidence that she intentionally
disobeyed the court order.” He added that as the transcripts were
filed under court seal they were never made public and as such, the
court’s order was not violated.
However, Ramsey still faces the misconduct allegations relating to
the gagging order.
While Blanc dismissed the first order, he rejected Ramsey’s
defense that her actions were harmless as only her client, Jamal
Smith, and a sheriff’s deputy were believed to have witnessed the
act. As the Sun Sentinel reported, pretending to gag while Cobia was
on the witness stand was a “clear violation” of the rules for
lawyers and “such conduct displayed to a client is unprofessional,
disrespectful of the process, and conveys to the client, if no one
else, that such disrespect is appropriate.’”
Ramsey has been accused
of unprofessional behavior during an Oct. 5 deposition and a Dec. 30
hearing for Smith’s case. She faces possible sanctions of a
reprimand, probation, suspension or disbarment.
Ramsey also made headlines last year for her work in a charitable
In April 2016, My
Palm Beach Post reported that Ramsey won the Second Annual
Charity Closing Argument Competition on April 15, 2016, at the Palm
Beach County Historical Courthouse as part of a fictitious
closing-argument competition for “The Cat in the Hat.”
During 20-minute slots, Ramsey and defense-attorney opponents John
Cleary and W. Craig Lawson entertained the crowd of lawyers and
relatives with their reasons why “El Gato” should be acquitted of
burglary, false imprisonment and criminal mischief charges based on
his actions in the classic Dr. Seuss story.
According to the report,
Ramsey won after providing a convincing indictment of “Thing 1”
and “Thing 2” making her the contest winner.
event raised money for the Nesting Knowledge of the Wright Place
Inc., The Urban League of Palm Beach and Catholic Charities.