United States v Hernandez (Velasco)

Velasco represented Hernandez in a drug case. The district court ordered no further continuances in the sentencing hearing. Velasco took a family vacation during the time of the sentencing hearing and sent a substitute attorney without obtaining Hernandez’s permission. The sentencing was postponed and Velasco was found in contempt at a sanctions hearing held right after the postponed sentencing hearing concluded. The panel affirmed. It held that Velasco forfeited any claim that he should have been afforded the protections of indirect contempt by failing to raise this at the sanctions hearing. Reviewing for plain error, the panel held the contempt here was not clearly indirect given Velasco agreed to the sentencing date then took a vacation and did not get Hernandez permission to substitute another attorney. Additionally, Velasco actually received notice, an opportunity to be heard and the district court considered his motion to reconsider. Thus, any error did not affect the fairness or integrity of the proceeding.