SALEM — Blacksburg attorney Jonathan Preston Fisher resolved another contempt charge Wednesday, gaining an agreement from a judge to take the matter under advisement for almost two years and if there are no further problems, to dismiss the case.
Fisher, 43, has drawn attention with a string of misdemeanor contempt of court charges that other attorneys have described as extraordinary. Most of the charges relate to not showing up to court on time, although in March Fisher was fined in Floyd County for a dispute that included swearing at a prosecutor and threatening to sue the commonwealth’s attorney’s office.
Fisher has said that an overwhelming caseload combined with health problems last fall started a snowballing series of missed hearings that he’s been slowly rectifying .
On Wednesday, Fisher was in Salem Circuit Court, appealing a contempt conviction from March in the city’s general district court. It was the 12th contempt charge that Fisher has faced, according to state records.
Judge Chris Clemens, who in June presided over Fisher’s appeal of a contempt case in Roanoke Circuit Court, said that he was inclined to treat the Salem case the same and take it under advisement for 22 months, so that both the Roanoke and Salem cases could be dismissed at the same time if Fisher’s performance improves.
“The antenna’s up,” Clemens told Fisher. “You’ve got to do better than any other lawyer.”
John Lichtenstein, a Roanoke attorney who represented Fisher, told the judge that Fisher is “continuing to take stock of his law practice” and has a staff member who is helping to keep his schedule organized. “He’s also taking stock in a very constructive way of his own health,” Lichtenstein said.
Fisher has said he has osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, and uses forearm crutches to walk. He has said that he has suffered dozens of broken bones and has post traumatic stress disorder from this that affects him in various ways.
Clemens told Fisher that he was glad Fisher was doing better physically.
“Much better, your honor,” Fisher replied.
The judge asked Lichtenstein to come to his office “from time to time” to advise him on how Fisher was doing.
After the hearing, Fisher said, “I continue to appreciate the opportunities that Judge Clemens has given me.”
Fisher’s contempt citations include cases resolved in Roanoke County in 2011; in Botetourt County in 2014; and in Roanoke County, Amherst County and Alleghany County in 2018. This year he resolved contempt cases in Pulaski County, Floyd County, Montgomery County, and Botetourt County, as well as Salem, where Wednesday’s case was the second contempt citation Fisher faced there.
Every case has been dismissed or taken under advisement except for the Floyd case.
Earlier this month, Fisher incurred a new contempt charge, his 13th, in Botetourt County. He has a hearing in the county’s General District Court scheduled for Sept. 13.