Not having covered many court cases in my day, I’m not exactly qualified yet to make the statement “You can’t make it up.” Still, Monday’s arraignment for Stephan D. Mattox took an interesting turn when his attorney, Riff Scholz of Quincy, initially failed to appear.
Mattox faces second-degree assault charges on allegations that he brutally beat his then-neighbor Adam “Doc” Clark on March 1. The beating allegedly occurred moments after Clark’s fiancee, Monica Williams, allegedly fired a shotgun at Mattox’s house in what she has said was the climax in an ongoing neighborhood feud. (Williams has admitted to the shooting but has not been charged.)
After last week’s brief, occasionally contentious preliminary hearing, Mattox was set to face a formal reading of his charges in Marion County circuit court Monday morning before Circuit Judge Rachel Bringer.
The appointed hour of 9 a.m. came. Several of Mattox’s friends and family members were in attendance, as were Clark and Williams, but no Mattox. He and his fellow Marion County Jail inmates eventually filed in, as scheduled. No Scholz, either. That was more difficult to explain.
It wasn’t until 10:30 a.m., after two recesses and apparently multiple phone calls to Scholz’s law office, that Bringer announced that Scholz — who had two cases on Monday’s criminal docket, and whose tardiness she had noted more than once in the morning’s proceedings thus far — would arrive in about 30 minutes.
When Scholz walked in, Bringer finished the case she was on and immediately threw to him for Mattox’s arraignment — but not without first acknowledging his tardiness one more time.
Bringer asked everyone who had been waiting for Mattox’s arraignment since 9 a.m. to stand up. About eight people — the bulk of the courtroom audience — rose. Then Bringer asked Scholz to turn around and take a look at them. She then chastised him, telling him that court had begun at 9 and he needed to be prompt.
Scholz apologized for his lateness, but did not give a reason for it before continuing with his client’s appearance.
Might not be unusual in America’s Hometown, but it certainly struck me as unusual — and memorable.