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JUDGE GIVES ULTIMATUM NO-SHOW WILL RESULT IN RACIAL SUIT'S DISMISSAL.

Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES - A federal judge telephoned Diana Beard-Williams Thursday to say he will throw out her racial discrimination lawsuit against the Palmdale School District if she fails to show up in court today.

Beard-Williams told the judge from home that she needed to see a psychiatrist to get new anti-anxiety medicine before she can return to court, but the judge said she sounded ``perfectly competent'' to testify.

``If you do not appear, this case will be dismissed with prejudice,'' U.S. District Court Judge A. Howard Matz told Beard-Williams during a 35-minute telephone conversation, played over a speaker phone for attorneys in his downtown courtroom.

During the call, the judge ordered Beard-Williams several times to be silent during her frequent interruptions, finally threatening to find her in contempt of court.

``All right, I hereby order you to show cause why you should not be held in contempt for flagrant, willful, defiant and absolutely inadmissible violation of my order,'' he told her.

Matz also told her he would rule her in contempt of court if she does not show up today in court to testify.

Beard-Williams replied, ``I think you made up your mind before you called.''

In a telephone interview later in the day, Beard-Williams said she hadn't yet decided if she will appear today.

``I have a meeting tonight with my psychiatrist. Because of the things (the judge) said yesterday and the way he talked to me today, it all has caused me a level of emotional distress,'' Beard-Williams said. ``We'll make a determination after I see my psychiatrist.''

If Beard-Williams does go forward with her case, it will be without her attorney, Renee Campbell. Matz allowed Campbell to withdraw Thursday from the case.

On Wednesday, Beard-Williams told the judge she wanted to fire Campbell for doing a poor job, then later left a telephone message withdrawing the request.

But Matz granted Campbell's own motion to withdraw, castigating Beard-Williams for faxing reporters a copy of a letter she'd sent to the judge criticizing her attorney. Campbell, in her motion to withdraw, said the letter contained libelous and untrue allegations.

``You committed one of the most scurrilous, contemptible and vile acts of any litigant I ever heard about,'' the judge told Beard-Williams about faxing the letter to reporters. ``Your lawyer has done her valiant best under very difficult circumstances, emanating principally from you, I think.''

After her telephone conversation with the judge, Beard-Williams said she was upset with his comments to her and with his statement Wednesday in court when he told attorneys he doubted her credibility and sincerity.

``I do not understand how a federal judge can personally attack a plaintiff and make the statements he made against me and then say the cause should go forward without prejudice,'' she said.

Beard-Williams said the judge hurt her case before trial started when he disallowed mention of her allegations that the school district had spent Head Start money fraudulently.

``He stripped the very heart and guts of the case,'' she said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 19, 2001
Words:507
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