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January 14, 2009 2:11 AM

J.R. Smith cited for contempt of court

By Chris Tomasson
Rocky Mountain News

Nuggets guard J.R. Smith faces a contempt charge for failing to appear in Municipal Court on Tuesday in Millstone, N.J., for a pre-trial conference on traffic summonses, the Asbury Park Press reported.

The charge is in connection with a June 2007 accident in which Smith was driving and his passenger and good friend was killed.

According to the paper, Smith's lawyer, Greg G. Mordas told judge Debra J. Gelson he would take responsibility for his client's absence, having advised him it was simply a pre-trail conference on the traffic charges and his appearance was unnecessary.

"I understand, but this is a fatal accident,'' the paper reported Gelson as saying, and that Gelson said only the court can excuse a defendant. "He is required to be at every pre-trial hearing.''

Smith, who played for the Nuggets on Tuesday against Dallas at the Pepsi Center and scored just two points on 1-of-14 shooting, is now due to appear in court Feb. 17 on the contempt charge and for the pre-trial conference. That is the day before the Nuggets play at Philadelphia, which would make a Smith trip to New Jersey very convenient.

"He will be there,'' the paper reported Mordas as saying.

When approached by the Rocky Mountain News for an interview on Monday, Smith said, "I don't do interviews.''

Nuggets coach George Karl said Monday he had no new information on when and if Smith might have to appear in court.

After the court proceeding, the Press reported Municipal Prosecutor Richard Kelly said no warrant would be issued for Smith. When asked what penalty Smith faces on the contempt charge, Kelly said a judge has wide discretion.

Police say that in June 2007, Smith drove his vehicle around a stopped car at a stop sign and into the path of an oncoming car. His friend and passenger, Andre Bell, was thrown from the vehicle and later died.

While Smith still faces motor vehicle summonses in the accident, a grand jury decided last October not to file vehicular homicide charges, likely eliminating the possibility of prison time.


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