Judge sentences man to 6 months for yawning in court

200908121018 Illinois Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak sentenced Clifton Williams to 6 months in jail for yawning in court. Rozak's contempt order stated that Williams "raised his hands while at the same time making a loud yawning sound," which was both disrespectful and disruptive.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Rozak, one of 30 judges in the the 12th Judicial Circuit, personally issues over a third of the contempt charges and has thrown more people in jail for ringing cell phones than "any other judge in Will County in the last decade."

Judge sentences man to 6 months for yawning in court

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  1. It does kind of sound like a dramatically exaggerated yawn. One would really had to have been in the courtroom to know.

    As for cellphones: not much pity there either. You’re in court: show some maturity and a sense of civics.

  2. Wow 6 months. While I agree a disruption like this is disrespectful and better manners should be used, I think six months in jail is a bit extreme. I could see maybe a night or two but six months?
    In these hard economic times things like this just dont make sense. Unless Mr Williams is the defendant and has a history of being disrespectful. We need more info on this to make a sound comment. Was Mr Williams carrying on like this for a period of time and warned repeatedly? Some people just like to push others buttons to see how far they can get. Personally, Id like to see short jail sentences being given out to those who wear their pants so low there ass cheeks are hanging out of their pants. Now thats just downright disrespectful.

  3. This reminds me of when I got sent to the end of the recess line for yawning in first grade. I said, “But I just yawned!” and the teacher said “That was a very LOUD YAWN.” I really hadn’t done it on purpose.

    Next he’s going to sentence someone to 6 months for exhaling heavily because he thinks it was a disrespectful sigh.

  4. @3 You could see a night or two??? For yawning??? It’s attitudes like this that perpetuate the American criminal-industrial complex. There is no justification for this. Clearly this judge has abused his power, and does not deserve to be on the bench.

    While we’re on the topic, why are people required to stand up for judges when they enter the court room? Is not standing up considered disruptive? Can you be thrown in jail for not standing up for such an asshole?

  5. Another activist judge, making activist decisions for the people.

    Listen Mr. Judgeship, we the people don’t want you representing us that way.

    Clearly, you feel like you are more important than anyone else, and have the supreme power of throwing anyone you want in jail.

    It’s some great power, isn’t it? Please don’t abuse it like this.

    OTOH, maybe this can be a teachable moment.

  6. We need more info on this to make a sound comment. Was Mr Williams carrying on like this for a period of time and warned repeatedly?

    No, we really really don’t need more info. This is a waste of tax money, and we just need to stay off this cranky old judge’s lawn until he dies and can be replaced.

    It’s a crap system, but it beats the alternatives.

  7. Wow, a man here (UK) was just sentenced to 8 months for beating up a 14 year old schoolboy at a bus stop. So yeah, I think we can say this was disproportionate without much more evidence!

  8. Many judges view themselves as demigods in their court rooms. My spouse has to work in a particular court room on a regular basis.
    The judge doesn’t break for lunch, and instead slips into her chambers for five minutes and eats something. Everyone else is SOL as food and drink are not allowed in the courthouse(except for the judges of course).
    She has no concern for everyone else who has to work there not even mentioning people who might have diabetes or some other condition that requires regulated intake of food.

  9. apparently the left and the right can agree on this one — I just found this story in Hate-De-Jour Land titled “Activist Judge …”

  10. A judge controls her Courtroom: do you suggest this guy ought to go on trial first?

    Judge = Independent raw power: be respectful and quiet in Court: and don’t be or cause a disturbance. How difficult is that?

    If you aren’t, then be ready to pay the price.

    If this Judge needs to stand for re-election, then this MAY come to haunt her, as an action too stern: such that the voters MAY feel, that she cannot to be trusted to exercise her power with the compassion which true justice requires.

    oops! sorry Your Honor I meant to say “he”, in the foregoing….

  11. When I first saw this my knee jerk reaction was WTF was the judge thinking.
    However when I read the story it turns out the man yawned rather dramaticly during his cousin’s sentancing for drug dealing or some such.
    This is a very important moment to all those involved. Will Bob get 6 months or 6 years? I would have interpreted the act as passive aggressive and distrespectful of the court.
    so yeah toss he f***** in the clink for a few days to make the point. but 6 mos is a bit excessive.

  12. A judge controls her Courtroom: do you suggest this guy ought to go on trial first?

    No. But the punishment should be 24 hours in jail, tops. Put a guy in jail for 6 months for yawning, and you are creating far more problems than you are solving.

  13. Jail time!? He wasn’t on trial and didn’t have to be there. He should have just been kicked out of the court room.

    A defendant causing a disturbance? Sure, a night in jail. An audience member causing a disturbance can just leave.

  14. #2: You would be OK with days or months of jailtime for a Cellphone? Every person with a cell phone has forgotten to turn it off at one time or another. A stern warning should be enough for a cell phone.

  15. Agree with ERICT. Assuming the guy was being deliberately disruptive (which is certainly how it sounds to me), some kind of action is appropriate. A judicial system can’t function at any level if judges can’t maintain an orderly courtroom. Six months is an absurd overreaction, though.

  16. Pyros wrote:
    While we’re on the topic, why are people required to stand up for judges when they enter the court room? Is not standing up considered disruptive?

    No, quite the contrary actually. Having everybody stand up is an easy way of ensuring that everyone in the room is on the same page, so that you can get proceedings on their way more quickly. Pretty obvious really.

    Atomix wrote:
    Jail time!? He wasn’t on trial and didn’t have to be there. He should have just been kicked out of the court room.

    No, quite the contrary actually. It´s precisely because

  17. A stern warning should be enough for a cell phone.

    Alternately he could seize the phone overnight. That would be clever.

  18. An unsurprising number of the comments at the original boil down to “Thank goodness somebody’s teaching blacks manners.” Sigh.

  19. Atomix wrote:
    Jail time!? He wasn’t on trial and didn’t have to be there. He should have just been kicked out of the court room.

    No, quite the contrary actually. It´s precisely because nobody was forcing him to be in that room that he has rigthfully earned himself a slap on the wrist if he can’t constrain himself.

    The concept of “contempt of court” isn´t there to protect the judge or the jury. It´s there to ensure fair and equal proceedings without outside disruption. Utimatly, it´s there to protect the defendants.

    That beeing said, Judge Rozak evidently doesn´t know the difference between “a slap on the wrist” and “a punch in the face”. Six months is preposterous and unpropotional in this case.

  20. Maybe they can give this judge his own television show, but not small claims court like Judge Judy.

    Oh no.

    A short-tempered crank like this should be given murder trials. It’d be like televised population control.

  21. I can’t honestly see ANYONE serving time for “contempt of court”. The concept itself is absurd when taken further that maintaining decorum during a judicial process. Any punishments should be limited to small fines at the MAXIMUM and most people if they’re being disruptive should simply be escorted out.

    Six months for yawning. Well now I do have contempt for the courts and the idiot power hungry senile judges that inhabit them. How do we raise our children to respect the law and the concept of justice with these types of ridiculous sentences destroying any credibility judges have as they masquerade as impartial and wise men and women of the law?

    What garbage. Why is it that governments of democratic states are quickly turning into the angry out of touch divorcees that my school called middle school teachers?

  22. The US constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. 6 months for yawning is cruel and unusual because it is grossly disproportionate to the effect that any yawn has ever had on reasonable people. Of course a yawn could disrupt a court room and the cost of disruption in a court is very high as there are many people waiting and many high paid people charging clients and the govenment, so any pause for unnecessary reasons is costly. But the cost for a yawn even intentional is no where near the $20,000 cost for jailing the man and the untold cost of defending an appeal for such an unreasonable sentence.

    I would think that overnight would be the maximum for an intentional but passive and non-violent disruption of the court.

  23. @20–the submissive, blind, unquestioning defender of authority

    That’s idiotic. There aren’t any other people for whom ordinary citizens are required to stand up. In a free, supposedly democratic society, citizens, the ones who are supposed to have power, should not be required to stand up for judges.

    I don’t know what you mean by saying “an easy way of ensuring that everyone in the room is on the same page.” What the fuck does that mean, pray tell. How does standing up ensure this? What evidence do you have that not standing up would mean fewer people were, to use you abominable cliche, “on the same page”. By your logic, we would all be standing every time a person of authority walks into a room. Let’s institute this in schools, the DMV, and the health department because we all know that being on the same page is so damned important.

    God, I wonder what the person on trial was being sentenced for, and what the sentence was. Anyone know? Perhaps a few years in jail for marijuana or cocaine, two substances which should be legal in the first place? Things that are organic, that cause other people no harm, or at least far less harm than our legal, puritan alcohol.

    I am determined to start a movement intended to stop these abuses, so desperately I despise the war on the poor. I evilly detest the corruption, and the rank unfairness of our so-called system of justice.

  24. And I detest just as much those who are complicit in these injustices by scraping and bowing to power heedless of the lives it ruins. You think you own justice. You do not. It may currently serve the interests of the cosseted, bourgeoisie who desire to be protected from the teaming underclasses by removing undesirables from society, but, you should know, this only makes your lives more threatened. As you become more corrupt, we will become more vicious. American society will become more and more like South American society, not that you would much care about that.

    If this were any kind of democracy, mobs of people would be showing up at the courthouse demanding that the prisoner be released and that the judge resign.

    Its surprising to me to see, time after time, the good patrons of BoingBoing siding with power even when power is clearly wrong. IT sickens me to no end.

  25. Reminds me of when my 8th grade Spanish teacher threw me out of class for an entire class period for yawning in the beginning of the period, before the bell had even rung.

  26. No matter where you look in the world, you won’t find as many people in prison as in the USA. The utter contempt (“disrespect” is not strong enough by far) of human freedom as displayed by this judge is the reason why. Land of the free?

    In any civilized country, the judge may have excluded him from the courtroom, perhaps fined him with on the order of $100 or 5 to 10 hours of social work. But I think that this judge should spend those 6 months in jail himself, for ignoring even the most basic human rights without a second thought.

  27. This is astonishing to me. I wasn’t aware that a judge could simply sentence someone at a whim who isn’t even on trial.

    It seems to blatantly go against the spirit of the sixth amendment, which guarantees a right to a trial, the right to bring witnesses in your favor, the right to representation. I mean, what if this guy had narcolepsy or something?

    Do judges have this power everywhere, or just in the courtroom?

  28. I’m sure there’s a lawyer (or first-year law student) can give us chapter and verse on the practice of standing for the entrance/exit of a judge, but my quick & dirty research suggests that it is a hangover from English practice, which in turn are rooted in artistocratic court protocols, which in turn are designed to emphasize the power of the ruler. As such, they’re nearly-inevitable features of the social hierarchies the monkey tribe continually reinvents.

    A quick Google led me to this document:

    http://www.aoc.state.nc.us/www/public/coa/ftp/ftp02/011151-1.wpd

    and to this Amazon “look inside” hit:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=hVPsw4DWjGAC&pg=PA80&lpg=PA80&dq=%22be+upstanding%22+%2Bcourt+%2Brise&source=bl&ots=2-qheVFkUa&sig=VF1lIdapn_1lOnwDxCSYBl5CjDQ&hl=en&ei=9BiDSqrDE4eeML-05KcL&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6#v=onepage&q=%22be%20upstanding%22%20%2Bcourt%20%2Brise&f=false

    It’s not yawning, but it does illuminate the roots of a judge’s authority in court–and how easy it is for a judge to abuse it.

  29. My pop was a defense lawyer for many years and a JP for the best part of a decade. He had many unkind but accurate things to say about everybody to do with the justice system – perps, fuzz and judges alike.

    In this instance, although I didn’t ask him, I suspect his opinion would be, “A judge is supposed to behave in such a fashion as not to bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”

    Maybe there are folks who think six months for a yawn, especially for one of them there colored people, is no more than the guilty party deserves. I don’t think so; I think it’s an indefensible sentence, however much I agree with the judge about cell phones.

  30. You think you own justice. You do not. It may currently serve the interests of the cosseted, bourgeoisie who desire to be protected from the teaming underclasses by removing undesirables from society, but, you should know, this only makes your lives more threatened. As you become more corrupt, we will become more vicious.

    If you envisioned the “movement” mentioned in your earlier post as my sides and belly shaking with peals of uncontrollable laughter, then your flaming jeremiads have succeeded!

  31. well well now, some of those little fellows on the bench want to be taken SERIOUSLY. What a good idea. Perhaps if their job was fraught with mortal danger they might garner more respect. Perhaps say, a random judge ducking bullets once a month or so? To keep them honest? Of course these buffoons in robes desperately want to be feared. They know they will never get any respect since even their fellow law trade workers privately laugh at them behind their backs.

  32. Pyros wrote:
    That’s idiotic. There aren’t any other people for whom ordinary citizens are required to stand up.

    Sure there are. You rise for the person officating during most religous ceremonies, you rise for the bride at the wedding, you rise during the final curtain call of a Broadway show and you rise for the guest of honour before he makes his speech at he banquet.
    Oh, and you rise when president Obama enters a room. Weather you like him or not.
    And then, once everyone´s attention is in the same place, you get down to buisness.

    This isn´t even really a question about authority, it´s about observing proper protocol. Are you just trolling, or do you seriously not know the difference between those two? Then my guess is that you´re not really getting any invitations to parties.

    Also, if you´d bothered to follow the link to the article before going into tantrum mode you would know “what the person on trial was being sentenced for, and what the sentence was”.
    But speculation and conjecture is so much more fun, right?

    1. EeyoreX,

      If you believe in harsh sentences for not observing proper protocol, please enjoy your six-month suspension from commenting at BB for being rude to Pyros.

      Case closed!

  33. @27: I had high school AP English in a special section before school my senior year. One morning I showed up six minutes late and the teacher told me to take my seat, but informed me it was an unexcused absence since I was so late.

    I was incredulous. “You mean, being here won’t count?”

    “Yes, that is correct,” she replied.

    I nodded, smiled widely, picked up my backpack and left. I could feel her stare burning into the back of my head as I left, and I was never in her good graces after that, but it was oh-so worth it.

  34. Good thing he didn’t fart.

    If I got six months, I’d be sorry I didn’t make the most of it, like mooning the judge or coughing the words “blow me!!” into my fist.

  35. @35: Not to be excessively picky, but Pyros did specify being *required* to rise. Politeness or acquiescence in social protocols isn’t the same thing as acting on threat of punishment.

    And a standing ovation is not required at final curtain call–except perhaps at school plays where everyone in the audience has a kinship relationship to someone in the cast.

    Standing (or kneeling or genuflecting) during religious services is voluntary–I haven’t gotten so much as a dirty look for failure to genuflect or cross myself in Catholic churches in a lifetime of weddings and funeral masses. (I stand with everyone else to avoid disturbing other attendees, but I never kneel. I’ve yet to be hauled before the dreaded liturgical protocol police.)

    The court protocols not connected to actual legal necessity or security (keeping the court well clear of non-participants, for example) have everything to do with social control. I’m not even sure how I feel about required terms of address, though I’m willing to take instruction from someone with the appropriate training or experience.

  36. The sentence is excessive and clearly makes more of a fool of the judge than punishes the offense.

    That said, the man was disrupting the actual sentencing of his cousin with a dramatic outburst. I’ve been in court rooms (working with as a volunteer thankfully, not a “customer”) and seen just this kind of behavior.

    Family, friends, even defendants try to show some defiance or irritation with the judge or court. Sometimes it was people pretending to have a sneezing fit, or coughing or even pretending to throw-up.

    The guy should not spend half a year in jail but judges fight a losing battle with keeping their courtrooms civil.

  37. Another data point for those charting America’s slide from “shining beacon of Freedom” to “corrupt and oppressive oligarchy.”

    This is the kind of thing you’d expect in Saudi Arabia, not the USA.

    And the saddest thing is: we’re letting in happen. There will be no groundswell of public outrage sweeping the judge from office. Most will think “that black guy must have deserved it” and move on.

    Just another day in America’s waning years.

  38. Wow, what a broad array of stupid-asshole authority figures are being mentioned in this thread! The judge, of course; but also Gruben’s Spanish teacher and Restless’ AP English teacher.

    I don’t know where people are getting the idea that the yawn was deliberately disruptive. Because he made a “loud yawning sound”? I know from my own experience that that can be involuntary. In fact, my younger brother made some VERY loud sounds which he was unable to suppress whenever he yawned. I can usually suppress mine, but when I’m really exhausted the sound comes out.

    As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing in the linked article that suggests Williams was being deliberately disrespectful. That judge definitely needs to go.

  39. Just a point of clarification: the six months isn’t necessarily what he will serve. Generally, in a situation like this, a formal apology to the court gets you released. So, if the guy were to apologize for his yawn, he’d be out. That’s not to say the judge was in the right, just pointing out that the yawner does have a way to not be in jail for six months.

  40. Six months is absolutely insane. That’s a huge chunk of income for anyone. He would have received a more lenient sentence if he hit the judge with his car!

    This guy ought to write to his governor or heck, President Obama asking for a pardon. That’s the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

  41. Dave!, isn’t the acceptability of the apology also up to the discretion of the judge? Which judge is a known asshole?

    Still, that’s good to know. I certainly think a formal apology would be suitable in this situation, even if the yawn was entirely involuntary.

  42. @#46 Yes, the judge has the discretion to accept the apology, but in the Trib article, there are examples of when *this judge* cut his own contempt sentences short. (6mo to 18 days; 30 days to 2 days; and 10 days to 24 hours; all in cases where the person apologized.)

  43. Every comment to this in favor of the judge could be read in Hank Hill’s voice for comedic effect.

  44. If 1/30th of the judges is handing out 1/3 of the comptempt charges, then it’s pretty obvious he’s going overboard.

    Honestly, it’s times like this that you could use “this court is worthy of my contempt” as a defense. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a defense against contempt-of-court. It’s just about the last bastion of legal summary judgement in the system.

  45. No wonder us Europeans think it’s no wonder American jails are so full, and that we wonder why no one in America is wondering about that.

    P.S. I wonder if reading wonder so often makes you wonder about how odd the word wonder actually sounds.

    Wonder.

  46. This judge should be investigated. I’m sure this isn’t the first instance of misuse of power.

  47. @Antinous: So, Pyros is dropping f-bombs, and I´m the one beeing rude for answering a direct question? Interesting.

    But, fair enough. I respect your decision. Even arbitrary and inconsequential house rules should be followed, when you´re in somebody else´s house.
    See you again in February, maybe. Or possibly never.

    1. EeyoreX,

      I was lampooning your statement, as evidenced by the fact that you can still sign in.

  48. “Cruel and unusual punishment” is not the same thing as “unfair punishment.” It annoys me how much misunderstood that term is. “Unusual” means that the punishment is out-of-the-ordinary, which a prison sentence is not (though I agree that it’s totally disproportionate, except if an apology is accepted). If he commanded the guy to stand on his head in the middle of Times Square wearing pink glitter pants, it might be unusual. There’s some debate over what the terms mean, and it’s doubtless not as well-defined as the above, but it’s not the same as the cliched use for any verdict people disagree with.

    Heck, even capital punishment gets called cruel and unusual sometimes – even though the Constitution itself calls for capital punishment for treason. Capital punishment may be wrong (I’m pretty sure it is myself) but it cannot be Constitutionally banned under “cruel and unusual.”

  49. How many of these many sentences by that judge are overturned? If a lot that’s a minus against the system of elected judges that he still has a job. If very few that’s a minus against the justice system which overprotects its members.

  50. I recall reading a case from the 1600s in England in which the magistrate ordered the sheriff to immediately chop off the hand of an individual found in contempt of court, but I can’t find the reference. However imprisonment for 20 or 30 years for contempt was not uncommon in the C18 and C19 as a practical consequence of setting fines which the respondent could not pay – see http://tinyurl.com/qbslof for examples..

  51. Injustice is served when power is unchecked.Percentage of Judiciary that is convicted and incarcerated to the overall population is determinate of the social justice level.

    The US Penal system incarcerates Per capita like non
    other and the Penal_industrial complex is bankrupting may states. Shaming the actors to this run a mock FUBAR system will not change a thing.

    Democratic thing to do is to disengage the law that
    permit the abuse, accountability through fair elections and egalitarian legalism. Cleansing of the
    system is order.

    Oh “time in jail is not time in prison” The difference is only academic when your are sharing a single toilet with all your innumerable intimate mates.

  52. @41 Yeah, REQUIRED is the operative word. This means that if you don’t do it, you get thrown in jail for 6 months. I don’t think this happens at a wedding, and I don’t think it would happen even with the President, though I could be wrong. In any case, a municipal judge is far off the mark from the President.

    Who knows, maybe a judge could throw you in jail for 6 years for any form of contempt? For the worshipers of power, would this be too long, I wonder? Would there be any limit? Can power do anything unreasonable? Life imprisonment?

    @39 Yes, I do envision your fat shaking from laughter. Nervous laughter. And I would even go so far as to thank you for even taking notice. Usually the powers that be do their best to feign complete indifference. Any activist who doesn’t expect mostly resistance from entrenched forces is largely deluded. I can even tell you, if it makes you feel better, that I don’t really expect to win, or necessarily to make a difference. I want to protest because of my convictions, because it’s something I believe in. I don’t care if everyone laughs, frankly.

    @60 I wonder about why the jails are full, although as an American I am rather alone in this. A lot of people are happy to see other people’s lives thrown away because they are branded as “criminals.” In America, we are under the spell of an evil idea called “personal responsibility.” IT’s a seductive argument to anyone who is unable to think much. For it to work, you have to completely ignore a half century of social science which clearly shows that circumstance influences behavior. If fewer people lived in poverty there would be less crime. But for some reason we would rather punish the individual instead of doing the things that would make crime dramatically less likely.

    In America, prison is the solution to poverty and inequality. It never occurs to us to do much about these things. John Edwards used them here and there in his recent campaign for President, but it didn’t get him very far.

    Since we are a very rich country, we can afford to have prison be our form of social welfare — you know, TDAWWG, your confiscated income (taxes) going to pay to feed, clothe and house other people. This is the way we make the upper classes in America feel powerful and morally superior.

    This man’s life was just callously thrown away because judges have too much power. To whom are they accountable? How often are they fired or deposed? Basically they do the bidding of the rich and powerful, and are lent even more support by all those who are in favor of being “tough-on-crime.” Hey, let’s get tough on poverty. Let’s get tough on those who haven’t been given a fair deal. Let’s get tough on judges who throw people’s lives away for nothing. That’s what I say.

    Lastly, whatever the scoffers may say, they still have to reconcile the fact that there are more people in prison in America than any totalitarian or fascist regime currently in existence. More than China. More than Russia. More than Saudi Arabia. More than Cuba. But everything is just fine, right? There are no arguments that a reasonable person would listen to that would make sense, but I nevertheless defy you, challenge you to give it your best shot. When you do, I will laugh at you. I will know that you are not capable of intellectual honesty.

  53. Who knows, maybe a judge could throw you in jail for 6 years for any form of contempt?

    They can, and they should be able to, though they really ought not. And they should have that power, within the solemn halls of justice, until they die / retire / are replaced as allowed in law.

    unless you have a better alternative that insures greater justice*, we’re going to have crackpot judges. Crackpot legislators too. Even crackpot executives.

    * – zig for great justice does not count

  54. No limits?

    No accountability?

    No appeal?

    Seriously?

    Why in the world would we take the time to go through the military commissions process? Why not just send all our detainees to appear as witnesses for a 36-hour long trial of an innocent man? When they violate the sanctity of the court by protesting their situation, we can just sentence them to a hundred years for contempt of court.

  55. This is ridiculous and anyone thinking otherwise should be hanged by his balls for all I care.

    He got senteced for 6 MONTHS for YAWNING! That’s all that needs to be said. I can’t believe you people can see the “justice system” as still just with this shit. Why do we need to all hail the judge? Courtrooms are ridiculious, the judges sitting there on their fucking trone and everyone needing to blindly obey and worship them. “All rise” PISS OFF!!! This is fucking horrendous, the “justice system” is one of the most unjust things and a courtroom is a great totalitarian house for them to wank over power.

  56. Forced respect is a lie. Even if this man apologizes and gets released, he will hate and distrust the court system for the rest of his life. Punishment does not make people like you.

  57. 6 months, as noted, is absurdly punitive for the “offense”, exaggerated and meant to mock though it was. The same message could have been sent with a much lighter and more useful sentence–a fine, community service, etc.

    On the other hand, putting people in jail for leaving their cell phones on is 100% justified. There are signs posted outside of most any courtroom specifically stating that phones must be turned off. Yawning, on the other hand, is not on any signs that I’ve seen. To me, Rozak is 100% right on the cell phone sentences for repeat offenders.

  58. I’ve heard that one Lord Justice of the English Court of Appeal has been known to acidly remark, when a lawyer has forgotten to turn a phone off or to silent, that “they are called cell phones for a reason..!” There is the odd story of repeat offenders being sent to the cells for a couple of hours, but this is unusual. Having said that, most lawyers might prefer that to the alternative of a complaint to their Managing Partner or Head of Chambers.

  59. If we are a country of law, then shouldn’t we admire judges?
    I guess I would like to know in what context this guy yawned: was is while the judge was sentencing him? Was it while he was being judged by a court of law? I think that the blatent act of yawning while being sentenced is quite subversive. Not that I think it should be followed by a sentence of six months. That seems crazily excessive. But is it ok to show such contempt for the rule of law that we are trying to live by?

  60. judges are such wusses. Imagine being so spineless as to depend on the entire power of the legal human-garburator to stop cell phones from ringing.

    All the silly bastards ever had to do was demand the offending phone and smash it on the bench with a gavel. Point made, threat made and no real harm done. But there’s the rub, isn’t it? They LIKE hurting people.

  61. this judge is a fucking idiot and just proving to the world how he makes up for his small cock and balls with a false sense of authority only god can judge people get over your fucking self “judge” daniel rozak ill yawn right in your face you piece of shit and maybe blow a load on your wifes just to make me feel a little better that a moron like you has any say in the outcome of a persons life

  62. My god.

    Who cares if the guy was deliberately trying to disrupt the courtroom. 6 months would be fucking absurd if the guy had squatted down and shat all over the floor. For yawning this is just about the most preposterous sentencing I’ve ever heard of.

    I mean I understand that the judge should have to power to make sure proceedings should run smoothly but honestly 2 nights in the clink should be the maximum a judge can sentence you to for ‘contempt of court’. Perhaps make it longer for people that have already been found guilty of this sort of thing before, but 6 months shouldn’t ever be possible for such a stupid ‘crime’.

    Also this judge should clearly be struck off. I mean the guy has handed out a full third of all contempt of court rulings in the state out of 30 judges.

    That means 29 judges have made 2/3rds and this fucking power hungry shit head had handed out the other 1/3rd. What the fuck.

  63. Thanks for the update, Dave!; the article you link shows that in addition to being a draconian power-hungry shithead, this judge is an ignorant moron too. He claims to have sentenced the guy for making a sound, which means he’s completely unaware that yawning sounds, like the motion itself, can be completely involuntary.

    When you yawn, your autonomic nervous system takes over. That’s why Terry Schiavo looked so “normal” when she yawned—nothing in a yawning face depends on your personality or thoughts. Your brain stem and spinal cord (all that was left of Schiavo’s CNS) do it all.

    This judge should, as someone else said, get 6 months for bringing the justice system into disrepute.

  64. xopher – there should be a Shaivo corollary to Godwin’s law. You may have a point, but the hyperbole is interfering today.

  65. MDH – what hyperbole? Could you explain, because I didn’t think I was exaggerating. The part of the brain that thinks and decides and carries personality had liquefied in Schiavo, and was no longer controlling anything her body did.

  66. If you can make the argument (and I know you can) without dragging in an icon (Schaivo) from a barely related branch of the culture war into you making the point at hand, then I think you should.

    If you point isn’t directly or indirectly about Schaivo, it shouldn’t probably include her, because that’s where you lose people. That’s when they stop listening and wander off. That’s when the teachable moment ends.

    It does no good to wield such a shock-value image (especially one that has to do more with legislative and familial prudence than judicial temperment) in an debate about the time-honored American tradition of bashing a cranky old crackpot Judge.

    imho.

  67. Ah, but that isn’t hyperbole, which is why I was confused. I was using Schiavo because everyone now knows she was brain-dead the whole time the controversy was flaring; it was literally the only example I could think of that clearly demonstrated the difference between autonomic and voluntary responses. People saw video of her yawning and it looked entirely normal.

    I thought the issue of Schiavo was sufficiently laid to rest (along with the unfortunate woman herself) that I could simply use her as an example of that distinction. You clearly disagree, but can you think of another example I could have used? It would almost have to be a brain-dead person yawning to make the same point. I can’t think of anything suitable.

  68. #24 posted by ZippySpincycle, August 12, 2009 11:53 AM

    An unsurprising number of the comments at the original boil down to “Thank goodness somebody’s teaching blacks manners.” Sigh.

    Are you really that stupid? This isn’t about racism or anything else for that matter. It’s about some BS jail sentence for a loud yawn. Disrespectful yes, worth 6 months in jail without any type of trial? Hell no.

    A guy can rape a girl and get away with it or a female kills her ex’s new wife and gets a short sentence then pleas for temporary insanity and goes to a nut farm, but yet a guy yawns and gets 6 months.

    Get off your little racism bit and shut up…

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