A lawyer banned from county court facilities after going to the courthouse for a recent hearing — despite being directed not to because of possible COVID-19 exposure — can return once she meets conditions set by the county's president judge.
Judge David Ashworth also reprimanded Wendy Chan, of Chan & Associates in Lancaster, during a videoconference hearing Monday on her ban.
Ashworth, who banned Chan last week, said she risked the health of others, failed to take responsibility and tried to deflect blame "by creating a false narrative filled with distortions of fact and outright fabrications."
Sheriff deputies escorted Chan from the courthouse July 30 after she went to Judge Craig Stedman's courtroom rather than attending via videoconference, as he directed. She had emailed his staff on July 23 that she had to self-quarantine until Aug. 10 because her son had COVID.
Other family members were fine, she wrote in the email, “However, I am concerned of who I could possibly infect that are high risk if I go into court."
She had been asking for a postponement in a case, saying it was too complex to handle by videoconference, but Stedman denied her request.
Chan told LNP | LancasterOnline last week that she went in person because she found out had earlier that morning that she tested negative.
Before laying out the conditions for Chan's return, Ashworth rebuked her handling of the situation.
Rather than filing a motion for reconsideration of his ban, Ashworth said, she chose to write “one of the most unprofessional and irresponsible letters written by an attorney to a judge that this court has ever read.”
"To be clear, this matter is nothing more than an attorney who chose to violate a judge's instruction and risk the health and safety of others for her own personal and professional gain. Rather than take responsibility for her actions, attorney Chan chose to escalate this matter and blame others," Ashworth said.
Chan told Ashworth that she would have called Stedman upon learning that she tested negative, but figured it would waste too much time so she went in person.
"I made a decision. As I said, ideally, I would have called. ... if I had more time, I would have called," she said.
She also denied using the pandemic to gain a "tactical advantage" in her case, as Ashworth had accused her of in his letter banning her.
"I certainly was not using the pandemic to gain a tactical advantage. I think that was pretty outrageous," Chan told Ashworth.
Ashworth told Chan he would allow her to return to court facilities in person once she provides him documentation that her son hasn't been contagious, that no one else in her house is contagious and she hasn't knowingly been in contact with anyone who positive.
Contacted for comment on Tuesday about when she planned to meet Ashworth’s conditions, Chan said she wanted to read the hearing transcript. She did not provide additional comment.