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Becker v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

March 24, 2015

ANDREW BECKER, S/K/A ANDREW IRA BECKER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

Page 684

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FAIRFAX COUNTY. Randy I. Bellows, Judge.

Affirmed.

Robert L. Lichtenstein for appellant.

Elizabeth C. Kiernan, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: Judges Humphreys, Petty and Decker.

OPINION

Page 685

[64 Va.App. 485] WILLIAM G. PETTY, JUDGE

Andrew Becker, a Virginia Beach attorney, was convicted by the Fairfax County Circuit Court, sitting without a jury, of criminal contempt for misbehavior as an officer of the court, in violation of Code § 18.2-456(4).[1] On appeal, Becker assigns two errors to the trial court's judgment. First, Becker argues the trial court erred in finding evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that he intentionally and willfully misbehaved as an officer of the court in his official character. Second, Becker argues the trial court erred by accepting into [64 Va.App. 486] evidence the certification and transcripts from the general district court because they " included impermissible reference to [Becker's] prior disciplinary record, as well as, irrelevant opinion" of the general district court judge; additionally, Becker argues that this error was not harmless. We disagree and affirm Becker's conviction.

I. Background

" On appeal, 'we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, granting to it all reasonable inferences fairly deducible therefrom.'" Archer v. Commonwealth, 26 Va.App. 1, 11, 492 S.E.2d 826, 831 (1997) (quoting Martin v. Commonwealth, 4 Va.App. 438, 443, 358 S.E.2d 415, 418, 4 Va. Law Rep. 127 (1987)). " Furthermore, an appellate court's 'examination is not limited to the evidence mentioned by a party in trial argument or by the trial court in its ruling.' Rather, 'an appellate court must consider all the evidence admitted at trial that is contained in the record.'" Perry v. Commonwealth, 280 Va. 572, 580, 701 S.E.2d 431, 436 (2010) (quoting Bolden v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 144, 147, 654 S.E.2d 584, 586 (2008)). The following evidence is set out with these principles in mind.

Becker was retained by a judgment creditor to collect money owed by a judgment debtor. On November 8, 2012, Becker,

Page 686

through his legal assistant, mailed to the Fairfax County General District Court a " Suggestion for Summons in Garnishment" and a " Garnishment Summons." Becker used the district court's forms DC-450 and DC-451. The garnishment summons listed a return date,[2] a case number, and the name and address of the garnishee, who was the debtor's employer. Becker filled in " Irvine, Texas" as the address for [64 Va.App. 487] the garnishee/employer. Becker included a prepaid certified envelope addressed to the ...


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