Man Again Faces Utah Supreme Court Contempt Charges

Man Again Faces Utah Supreme Court Contempt Charges

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Salt Lake City man jailed by the Utah Supreme Court less than two weeks ago for contempt is in trouble with the high court again.

The day Clifton Panos, 55, was released from jail, he allegedly mailed a letter criticizing the court, which has ordered him to appear Wednesday and show why he shouldn't be found in contempt again.

Panos has spent several years disputing a small-claims court ruling against him that stemmed from a traffic accident. Last year, the high court heard an appeal of the case, but also struck down his claim.

On March 15, justices ordered Panos to stop making telephone calls, leaving long-winded messages and visiting the homes of justices and staff with letters and information about the civil case.

Panos didn't halt his campaign and justices ordered him to appear before them March 23. He told the court he had good intentions and his actions did not constitute harassment.

After about 20 minutes of deliberations, justices disagreed. Justice Michael Wilkins ordered Panos to spend 30 days in jail and pay the maximum fine of $1,000, but then suspended 25 days of jail time and all of the fine.

He was ordered to stay more than 500 feet from judges, staff and their family members, and more than 2,000 feet from any of their residences. He was warned that another contempt hearing would be ordered should he fail to meet any of the conditions, or if he attempted to make further contact with judges or staff by phone or mail.

According to court documents, Panos wrote the Utah Supreme Court on the same day he was released from jail.

The letter allegedly criticized the justices for their characterizing why he sent letters and made calls.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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