Woman flips off judge during absurd hearing

This entire interaction between Penelope Soto, 18, who was arrested on possession of Xanax, and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat rivals Wapner and Judge Judy in its absurdity. The climax is at 2:18 when Soto flips off the judge. "Did you say fuck me?… 30 days in the county jail!" (via NBC Miami)


  1. This is one of those “I don’t support the War on Drugs but I’m really glad I don’t have to be the one to defend that girl in court” kind of moments.

  2. I would guess that she’s used to getting her way, especially with men, up until this point in her life. 

      1. I doubt Hugh wears black, unless he’s in a tux.  It’s mostly red for him, or some gradient thereof.

  3. I thought increasing the the fine from $5k to $10k was a dick move on his part, but she sealed her fate once she swore at him.

    1. I think the increase was more than dickish, it would seem to rise to racism.  She said “adios”, which is the closest thing in Spanish to “goodbye”.    Was he steamed by the fact that she spoke in Spanish?  Is he accountable as a judge at least to the extent that he needs to document why he increased the amount?

        1. It’s not clear to me what his accent is… but even if he is hispanic, I wouldn’t put completely aside the possibility of cultural self-loathing.  This is a phenomenon apparent in various members of struggling races and classes who have themselves personally done well;  in their efforts to disassociate themselves from their origins, they come to look down on their culture/family/township.

          1. She’s very young and very pretty, she thinks her shit don’t stink. She says “Adios” because having been dismissed, she has to maintain the upper hand by leaving with a final bit of FLAIR. There’s no cultural self-loathing going on. Stop trying to be deep.

            How long have you lived in this country? That accent is definitely hispanic.

      1. Was he steamed by the fact that she spoke in Spanish?

        The judge’s name is “Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat” and his accent indicates that English is probably not his first language. I have a hunch that his response had more to do with her attitude than her ethnic background.

        1. The only word she spoke between him dismissing her and doubling her bail was a friendly “adios.” I can’t think of any defensible reason for doing that, and speaks to someone who needs some oversight on their exercise of power if not its outright revocation.

          1.  Yeah, I’m inclined to agree here.   She was being an idiot and not taking the case seriously, but a simple ‘adios’ doesn’t even represent a straw that could break the camel’s back.

            He should have either fined her double for acting immaturely in the first place, or just let it go.  The fuck you that came afterwards was actually deserved, despite being a bad move on her part.

            Also, 30 days in jail?  That’s a nice burden on the taxpayer for a flippant remark.  Maybe America should be looking to save money in the courtrooms if it wants to cut spending.    I don’t know how much that’ll cost, but it’ll surely be a couple of thousand at least, just to make this girl have less chance of being a productive member of society.

          2. The judge could very possibly be taking kick-back from the private prison industry. Two judges in Pennsylvania took a couple of million dollars from a juvenile prison building company and sentenced 2,000 minors to long stays for things like mocking the school principal on facebook.

      2. I rather think he felt that she was insulting him, as he himself is clearly the one who’s Hispanic.

        She flippantly said “Adios” to him because she saw he was Hispanic. He laughs and asks her to come back, and she seems pleased, like she’s expecting him to have appreciated that and about to lower her bail. Instead he increases it, and she is shocked and angry and flips him off.

        I can see his annoyance — her highlighting him being Hispanic may have felt like she was looking down on him, and perhaps she was — but I would always vainly hope that authority can recognize when someone under them is just acting out, and that escalating the situations just turns into negative results for everyone (c.f. police officers in high schools, etc.)

        1. I would guess she’s Hispanic as well–based on her looks I would guess either Hispanic or South Asian background, but “Soto” is definitely a Spanish surname.

        2. I took it like he felt it insulting because it seemed like she thought she had an *in* with him. Her flippant attitude probably had been rubbing him the wrong way, and then casually dropping that may have felt like she thought she was getting some kind of favor from him.

        3. She was acting in an insulting manner the entire time.  She never took it seriously until the point he raised her bail.  If people take anything away from this it should be: “Talk seriously, clearly, and respectfully with Judges.  They can put your behind in jail on a whim.  Legally.”

          1. why do we accept the fact that we live in a society where people can put you into a cage on a whim?

      3. He didn’t increase a fine, he increased her bond.

        If pushed for his reasoning, I’m sure the judge would likely point out that her somewhat sketchy account of her financial situation in combination with her flippant dismissal of proceedings led him to believe that an increased bond would be required to make her take her responsibilities in the matter a little more seriously.

        1. When the judge asks you a direct question, give a direct answer (provided, of course, that your lawyer doesn’t interject).

          1. And if you act like you are tripping, a possible way to defuse a situation is to say “I’m sorry for giggling in court Your Honor, I’m just very nervous right now”.

          2. If you’re an officer of the court, sure. If it’s your first time inside a courtroom, in a stressful situation, it’s not unreasonable to expect a bit of stammering when asked a question you simply don’t know the answer to.

      4. I don’t know all the legal stuff, but I do know that there are sentencing guidelines, and he then added his own stuff to that. I don’t understand how or why that would warrant an increase to the bond, however.

        1. She wasn’t being sentenced – she was being held for trial and bail was set at $5000 and then $10000 because of her flippant attitude.   The thirty in jail will be served before she can set bail or be tried.

      5. I don’t think this has anything to do with using a Spanish word, it was a respect issue.  He wasn’t going to let her giggle and be flippant in his court.  She did seem very nervous with the constant hair teasing and hand wringing.

          1. This is one of those things where I wonder whether I should say anything or not, but seriously that really is not only an obviously hispanic accent, but an obviously regional hispanic accent.

            Are you European though? Because that can make a big difference.

      1. It just shows that the court system is an abusive system. ANY system when one person can and does punish other people for ‘disrespecting’ them is an abusive system, I don’t care if it’s the courts, or the cops, or the school bullies, or an abusive parent, or abusive teachers, or ‘autism treatment,’ it’s abuse, and it teaches victims to comply and not to complain about emotional abuse, or beatings, or rape, and to blame themselves and hate themselves when these things happen. I hate it.

      2. Made me think of two quotes:
        “The less respect an older person deserves the more certain he is to demand it from anyone younger.” (Robert A. Heinlein , Have Space Suit – Will Travel, 1958)

        “Respect my authoritah!” (Eric Cartman)

  4. It’s a shame this girl who clearly has an issue with drug abuse is just bouncing around the legal system with very little hope of a positive outcome.  I mean, 30 days inside is going to do so much good for her attitude about a) drugs b) the system and c) authority figures … oh well. There’s a consolation in the fact that, like Britney she’ll probably be out inside of 48 hours due to overcrowding.

        1. Sorry, still confused.  Assuming she did have xanax, how does that translate to “an issue with drug abuse”?

          1. I would say ending up being charged with possession of it and flipping off a judge at the bail hearing for said charge, pretty much adds up to “having an issue with drug abuse.”  

            Abuse means improper use.  She was charged with illegal possession of Xanax.  Illegal. Improper. Abuse.

          2. You are conflating “illegal” with “abuse”.  The two are separate.  One can abuse legal drugs, and one can illegally possess a drug which cannot be abused.  “Drug abuse” is a very loaded term which means a whole lot more than “not in keeping with the law”.

            I get the strong impression that you simply believe she has “a drug problem” and are working backwards from that.  I may come across as simply working backwards from another premise — that she doesn’t have a drug problem — but if I am, I think that’s what our legal system actually calls for: an initial suspension of disbelief in favor of the defendant.

          3. I agree with SomeDude.  What she really has a problem with is “Stupid”, and most normal people are able to be stupid without the help of drugs.

        1. I’d buy that she’s nervous and highly aware of the spectators.  I’m not with you on the notion that she’s obviously high.

          1. She’s not high, she’s trying to act cute and ditsy to curry favor and get a light sentence. Notice how she drops her act when the judge says ten thousand (2:08). That sobered her up quick.

          2. I might buy the “ditsy and cute” theory with the provision that she’s not good at it. Her attempt makes her appear high.
            Possibly what got her bail doubled.

          3.  As a person who may or may not have been around a lot of people high on different things, if that is simply her demeanor when she is nervous, then when she is nervous she acts very much like a person who is tripping. Couple that with the charge she is up for, and it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable assumption that she is quite possibly on something.

          4. I am probably autistic. I find it eye contact very stressful. So to many allistic people, who don’t know autistic people or don’t relate to us, and who associate eye contact with honesty and avoiding it with dishonesty and/or guilt, I appear to by lying and guilty of something all the time.

            Please don’t judge people by their demeanor – especially not under stress and especially not when your judgement might affect their lives.

      1. case in point, Lindsay Lohan was released after 84 minutes of a 1-Day sentence “due to overcrowding”.  Then when she was jailed for 90 days for failing to attend to her court-ordered booze education classes, she was released after 12 days.  Given the Miami jail system is just as crowded as the California one, this gal is likely out in under a week as her crime was non-violent.

    1. If the only reason to be nice to someone is because they can hurt you, then… yes, be nice to them when you have to and hate the damn system that enables them.

    2.  No way.  She was playing with him, escalating the situation with her evasiveness.  He wasn’t having any of it.  If her ridiculousness was acceptable, then how about all the other people in there throwing vagueness and disrespect his way?  Hell no.  She was acting like a spoiled child, and she paid for it by not de-escalating the situation with straight answers.  Hell, she could have *lied* about her jewelry and said she had none and been on her way.  Instead she chose a different path.

      1. He could have cleared the situation up by simply asking if she actually knew the precise value of her jewellery.

      2. Maybe she’s just not that bright — didn’t understand the purpose of the question, or has no idea how to estimate property value. I might feel a little bit sorry for her if that’s the case.

        The assumption is usually, “she’s from the streets, she knows exactly what she’s doing.” On the other hand, she’s one of the ones who got caught.

        1. I don’t know the real answers to any of these valid questions.  (Yes, they all are valid questions.)  All I know is what is in front of me.  It is clear as day that she is trying to toy with him, but he is having none of it.  He broaches the value question repeatedly, she rebuffs him repeatedly, tries to get away, goes sour and he won’t stand for it.  Good for him.  Judges are the last people to fuck with.  I know some, who are pretty lenient people in real life, like to smoke weed, hang out, shoot the shit.  But in the courtroom?  There is so much work to do.  So much.  There is no time for tomfoolery.  There’s scarce enough time to get a full day’s work done in a full day, which for most judges is more than 8 hours. I really can’t blame the guy for throwing the book at her.

        2. We don’t really know how “from the streets” she is. Why would we assume that? To me she seems middle/working class and probably like she’s going to end up in rehab eventually. Some one probably gave her some crap advice to act extra cute to get away with more in the court. It sucks, but that’s how it seems to me.

          1. agreed. someone “from the streets” isn’t going to be fucking around in court like that. she’s trying to play the judge like she might have played a teacher, or her parents.

  5. just a ‘**** you’ to the petit bourgeois morons on this thread making fun of HER. that judge was an ass from a to z.

    1. Especially considering he was giggling the entire time right along with her.  He’ll get caught with a hooker or kiddie porn eventually… they always do.

    2. I would have given her 90 days, if that’s how you’re going to treat me.  Insult me again, and she’s doing six months!

      1. And this is why I am so pleased there is no Judge Awjt. This is why people who seek power should be allowed nowhere near it.

        Jesus, you want to be one of those police officers in high school too, who arrest the little punks when they “disrespect” you?

  6. This is why our “justice” system has such a prisoner stock and costs so much: we don’t fix people, we just punish them.  It’s like trying to housebreak your dog by beating him when he messes on the floor. 

    In this case the judge could have recognized that the woman needed help, but he was so intent on punishing her for her insolence that he totally blew any chance he had to help her get straight.  Now she’ll learn about *real* crime and drug use in jail.  Way to go.

    1. That is the Penal system in a nutshell. It’s not focused on rehabilitation, which means that we get repeat offenders constantly.

      Other countries don’t do this and/or have a variety of models, most of which work better than ours. 

    2. She’s already in jail. She’s in the orange jumpsuit told to stand on the line, told where to walk, only allowed access to court by remote camera while the court decides what of her personal possessions she should be required to sell for the privilege of having someone who can speak for and/or legally reason on her behalf. She is held in absolute contempt. She might as well be a talking animal to the court.

      He’s in a multi-million dollar courthouse with a very secure job that admittedly requires dealing with very fucked up people every day and he’s surrounded by attorneys who kiss his ass as a matter of course and he’s willing to not only punish her if he thinks she’s been a bad animal he’s willing to milk his injury and get more ass kissing out of the public defender and punish him as well. The power dynamics here are awful.

      1. She might as well be a talking animal to the court? 
        In all seriousness, don’t you think her behavior is at least part of the reason that she received the ruling that she did? What frustrates me about this is that she goes in there and behaves in such a dismissive way. In so doing, she puts just another dent in the judge’s perspective and respect for the people that come before him. Making the next person’s chances that much worse.

        1. Yeah the judge seemed in a good mood until she said adios. For whatever reason that was just a step too far.

          1. He was condescending right from the start. She was a bit off the rails – but his pride isn’t worth someone else spending 30 days in jail.

            You want someone to behave themselves in a court, you tell them. You don’t flip out like a child and abuse your power.

          2. @yahoo-HCF3RVC6OS3ZF5SENX46LJK7SA:disqus So by default, if you are in a criminal court, you are guilty?

          3. I seem to remember him asking her to take this seriously at the very start. I am not saying he was not out of line with the severity of his reaction, but you cannot think that anyone can act like that in front of a judge and not get some kind of consequence. 
            At the very least she was wasting time. If she would not have acted the childish way she did, she might have walked out of there on her own recognizance. Maybe she was still high or maybe she had some kind of mental disorder and that could be taken into account at a later time but if she was not then she needed a lesson in civility and respect.

          4. The thing that got her 30 days was not her general demeanor that was a bit off the rails. What got her the 30 days was the finger and “fuck you.”  While I would disagree, you could say that he was being harsh and she reacted to that, but still, she simply should not have done that. That act falls under what I would agree to be contempt of court. Again, I have no idea what the typical punishment for contempt of court is, but it was not HIS PRIDE that landed her the jail time, it was a direct result of her actions.

  7. Apparently they didn’t get ALL of the Xanax bars from her.  She really doesn’t seem to appreciate her situation, I’m guessing.  I’m amazed how nonchalant she is at being arrested.  Perhaps it’s not her first time, just her first time since being a minor?

    1. I think that the people who are commenting that the judge was the one with the chip on his shoulder are quick to dismiss the effect that she had on his attitude. She is giggling and smiling and not answering giving him serious answers to questions that he is posing that directly effect how he is going to rule. He mentions her selling her jewelry. He basically told her that he was trying how he’d rule on her bond based on the answer to that question. Instead of giving him a straight face, she says her jewelry collection is as big and bad ass as Rick Ross’s.  To me, this is an anecdotal account of how judges can get tough on people that seemingly don’t deserve it. She was caught with possession with no priors and walked out with a hell of a bond and 30 days in county jail. It striking to me how capable she is of being composed once she is angered. As though THAT was the moment when the proceedings got serious all of a sudden. 

      I have no idea what kind of judge this is, if he’s fair or not. Nor do I have ANY sense of what kind of bond her charges warrant but that defendant completely asked for what she got. Ma’am, what is the value of your possessions?  Vast!! I got jewelry!!!  Can you put a dollar amount on the value of your possessions? I’m RICH!! BEEOOOTCH!!! Ok, 10k bond. Next. throws middle finger 

      1. I think I can speak for most people when I say that what’s shocking is 30 days in prison for saying ‘fuck you’ to someone. She’s clearly a bit messed up – if he thinks that’s ‘justice’ then he deserves the occasional ‘fuck you’.

          1. I’ve sat in on court several times and heard worse. The most they got was a warning to use appropriate language. I can understand if it was repeated behavior that impeded the actions of the court, but the judge capriciously raised the amount, and she responded with an ill-advised insult. It was more disruptive to call her back.

            Anyway, I would say that using the power of the court to send someone to jail for a personal insult is at least as disrespectful to the court system as someone saying “f* you”. The tax payers are supposed to pay for 30 days in jail when he could’ve just let it roll off his back? I’d like to see judges who misuse their power get held in contempt of court.

            Yes, her behavior was bad. So was his. Only one of them was paid to be there and to to represent the people.

          2. You say that he capriciously raised the amount but he gave her a couple chances to answer his question. He was not asking anything ridiculous either. He was asking her to provide a metric by which he could assess her bond. He asked how much, straightly and plainly and all she could say was “LOTS!!” and giggle. I would understand an argument that he should have used his better judgement to asses the fact that he could very well have guessed that she did not have that kind of money to meet that bond, but he was reacting, and gave an answer directly related to her actual answer.  You have lots? I’ll give you a bond of someone who has lots. 

            I can’t say he took her at her word because that would imply he believed she had a fortune in jewelry and charged according to that but he nonetheless made a judgement based directly on the answer that she gave. I can’t find fault in that.

            Again, the 30 days could be excessive, but she was definitely in contempt of court. It looked to me as though, on a number of occasions he was trying to steer her back into dealing with the matter at hand in a sober manner but she was not having it. As such I give him the benefit of the doubt. She showed no reason why anyone should treat her kindly. 

        1. Sorry, what I meant to include here in response is that first of all, in contempt cases, the judges almost always bring the person back in a day or two, make them apologize and let them out much, much earlier.  These 30 day sentences are figuratively the cold glass of water in the face of someone who can’t act appropriately in court.  Second, this is a bond call, the most chaotic and rapid fire events of the criminal justice proceedings (see how the split screen is on there, in many places, they do these hearings on video only, with the judge in one part of the building and the defendant in the other, which was found to be unconstitutional here in Chicago where I practice but is common all over the country).

          As a criminal defense lawyer who represents people like this woman all the time…you don’t speak for me at all.  In fact, you’re dead wrong.  The criminal justice system is a blunt force instrument nearly incapable of solving societies ills like drug addiction or mental health problems.

          It is, however, a place where we observe a certain amount of decorum in order to feel like a civilized society.  I don’t think she deserved a 30 day sentence in full (she would rarely have served it anyway and follow up articles indicate she was released far earlier) but saying ‘fuck you’ to a judge is only funny or interesting to libertarian douchebags who don’t think we need rules like this in order to have an ordered society.  That judge, and her, deserve respect.  In a court room, we don’t let ANYONE carry on like that.  Now, what the public defender pointed out, and correctly, is that he needed to hold a hearing on her actual contemptuous actions… normally what judges do is put you in a chair or back in lock up and then bring you back out to apologize.  But if he had decided, after the hearing, that she was contemptuous (and case law would have supported him that she was) then imposed a 30 day sentence, it all would have been completely kosher.

  8. You think a judge named Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat is racist against Hispanics/Latinos?  It’s possible, but that’s a stretch.

  9. The judge has a power trip and people are cheering.

    How does flipping off a judge cause so much damage to society that we need to exercise the power of the state to forcibly confine a woman for thirty days?

    1. The only person I’m cheering for in the above clip is the overworked public defender who appears to be trying his best to calm everyone else the f*** down.

      1. It must be a tough job but the public defender still gave a hell of a try.

        Stories like this are so depressing. I don’t see a criminal in this video. I see someone who possibly has a substance abuse disorder accompanied with traits of a lack of impulse control (which wouldn’t be surprising since substance abuse is often used to self-medicate a mental illness). Instead of potentially getting treatment, she is ground under the heel of the criminal justice system.

        1. Punishment, as opposed to rehabilitation.  Still in the dark ages, hizzoner might as well be wearing a powdered wig.

    2. There are more perps waiting in line. If he shows that he can be treated with contempt (which is what she was doing), then order would break down

      1. Would order really break down if the judge didn’t abuse his authority? Are you really suggesting that order would break down inside of a detention facility? Or are you trying to say that these so-called ‘perps’ can’t be treated decently, even before trial, because they’ll just take advantage of you. Perhaps, just perhaps, treating these people like they are irredeemable and pushing them into and out of the high-efficiency ‘justice’ room without representation is the kind of thing that would provoke a person to act like an asshole to a judge (even if there were no other types of abuse of authority by the police). I know that if I were in the same situation that I would hold the entire system in contempt.

        Here’s a suggestion: treat these women like human beings, give them representation, clearly explain the proceedings, and don’t run it like a slaughterhouse on a videocam. And finally, don’t staff it with Judge Freisler wannabes.

    3. Maybe because her current course of being cute and flippant hasn’t served her well so far, she needs a wake up. I sure as well wouldn’t expect to say “fuck you” to a judge and have him do nothing.

    4. Maybe he was afraid that she would walk out into the rain, tilt her head back and drown.

  10. While I definitely think the judge overreacted to the adios comment, the way she acted during the questioning was totally ridiculous. If you obviously have no respect for your situation and those deciding your fate, then why would you expect them to respect you.

      1. And they have rules and guidelines they must follow, too.  It’d be great and funny to think judges could egotistically maul all the defendants, but in reality they have to follow the law themselves.  It’s not a Batman movie.

        I feel for the girl, whatever was going on with her, but she made two major faux pas.  I’m betting she wouldn’t do that with Miami PD at 2am on a dark street.

      2. That’s more of a UK perspective, where judges’ statements frankly tend to read a bit like diary entries about their feelings. In the US, the judge is supposed to be more of a facilitator for the proceedings.

  11. The judge was obviously using his position of power to flex his already inflated ego. Sure, the girl’s behavior was less than exemplary, but I think she probably had no idea what her jewelry was worth to the exact dollar, and likely just thought that to be absurd questioning. 2) Raising the bond because she said adios? That’s a blatant asshole move on his part. Of course she wouldn’t have flipped him off had he not been such a dick, but because people stand up for themselves, they get punished by the legal system.

    1. One can certainly argue whether or not it is just, but criminal contempt of court is hardly a “new” thing. It’s been part and parcel of the legal system since at least the 13th century.

    1. Contempt charges are there so the court doesn’t end up like question period in a Canadian Parliament. The judge is supposed to be impartial, but when you objectively lash out against the judge how can we repair the session and still be objective. Even worse, this was a trivial hearing, a bail hearing.

      Essentially contempt is for your own good. You are “[acting] in a manner which disrupts the tribunal and prejudices the administration of justice.” [  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contempt_of_court#United_States  ]

      Frankly I believe contempt is necessary to keep courts sanely running. You can express your opinion, you just have to express it appropriately.

      1. It’s an interesting theory, but one could simply put restrictions on judges’ mood swings, rather than restrictions on the defendants, prosecutors, and attorneys. The policy of allowing judges to have little fifedoms is in my opinion misguided and leads to events such as the one depicted in this video – where a defendant who has no experience with being in a court room is penalized for her inexperience. The irony being that a more hardened criminal who has been in court many times would know that you have to be serious even when, as in this case, the judge is chuckling along and failing to direct either her or her defender to be quiet and answer precisely. If he’d changed his tone and ordered her to answer with a monetary estimate, he could have changed the outcome. But he evidently did not want to. Instead, he leads her into a trap and then closes the door. Respect is earned, and that judge did not earn any. His power to indulge himself is an error of our system.

      2. “Appropriately” according to the judge, you mean? And what if a defendant, in their own manner, offers a comment which, though germane to the proceeding, may be culturally indecipherable to the presiding nomarch?

        We privilege the establishment in every way; must the forms of their speech be parroted to satisfy the law?

      3. I see your point, but what if you really do have contempt for the court?  Hypothetically: “The car in this red-light photo is not even mine, and you could have checked, instead I have to stand here and defend myself, yes I have nothing but contempt.”

  12. That’s RIGHT. Free speech and individuality! Of COURSE she should be able to give the judge the finger without fear of reprimand! What an asshole he was, getting all reactive over her being told “fuck you” because he DARED to reprimand the spoilt little tot. How DARE he! C’Mon! Free speech! AND she should be able to mockingly say “Adios” to the Hispanic judge who JUST let her off with $5,000! What’s the praablem? Giggle and fart around in court, use street slang in court when addressing the judge, that’s the way. Then get the bleeding hearts and anarchists to come running to the poor, maligned little thing’s defence.

      1. There’s a BIG difference between kissing someone’s ass and acting like an adult. She was acting like petulant little child, I applaud the judge.

        1. At 18 years old, she is not an adult.  Do you remember how you acted when you were a senior in high school?  Was it as an adult?  

          1. Um wrong, at 18 she IS an adult, at least in the US.

            I was a fairly responsible 18 yr old, had a job during school and in the summers, was an honor roll student, and didn’t get into much trouble. IF I did do something like illegally possess a controlled substance and end up in court for it, I wouldn’t tell a judge to “fuck off” and expect him to pat me on the head.

          2. What do you know about this woman that makes it so easy for you to judge her? You know her age. That is it. You don’t know her background, you don’t know anything about her family or friends. You don’t know if her potential substance abuse issues could have been caused by trauma or mental illness or whatnot. You don’t know if her dog just died. You don’t know if she is high. You don’t know. Yet you still judge her. Let me quote you: “she’s a piece of shit”.

            I think I know a lot more about you from this discussion that you know about her. And it doesn’t bode well for a person from a better socioeconomic background to laugh at a woman who is being abused by the criminal justice system and then call her a “piece of shit”. I am starting to get the impression that you are not a very nice person who will judge others in a heartbeat. Please prove me wrong.

          3. and dmc10, you probably had a solid family.  You probably had a Dad who came home from work and encouraged you to study and make something of yourself. You probably lived in a nice, middle class neighborhood without drugs where most people could find work.  And if you did find yourself in front of a judge, you’d probably have had a lawyer that your father paid for right next to you.  Your callousness is amazing.  Oh and finally, at 18, you’re still a kid in who can’t even drink a beer legally.  

          4. John actually wrong on all about all counts, Honestly, I don’t really want to go into it, but no I did not have a solid family or a good upbringing. So it’s not callousness, it’s the acknowledgement that even though most of my childhood and teens were a living hell (school / sports my only refuge) I ultimately needed to take responsibility for myself — and either try to make a decent life for myself and do the right thing, or go down a dark self-destructive path. I chose the former.

            [As an aside, I could drink beer at 18, 3.2 beer before it went bye bye. Yeah, I’m old.]

          5.  Here where I am, we’re allowed shag at 16, drink at 18, drive at 17, vote at 18, marry at 16, buy property at 18, get the associated mortgage, join the army at 16, go to battle at 18 … etc etc

            When I was 18 I decided my future (didn’t get it right, but still), studied hard and on my own, worked vacations to pay the rent, took out a loan for a car, went off to university all on my own.

            You get the picture.

            18 might seem young later, but when you’re 18, you know you’re a proper beginner adult.  You also know when you’re being stupid.

            I agree she’s behaving immaturely, but I’m picking up a mild awareness.

    1. False dichotomy much? It’s not as if the two alternatives are “anyone can do whatever the hell they want in court” and “month-long jail sentences for any acts that show contempt”. Punishment for such a minor crime should be the bare minimum needed to discourage them and others from more outbursts (a fine of 100 dollars might suffice, with escalating fines for continued contempt of court), putting someone in jail for 30 days is clearly excessive if the point of punishment here is mere deterrence (it’s pretty safe to assume the judge wasn’t thinking about deterrence in a non-emotional Spock-like style, but was thinking more like another fictional character: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx4jn77VKlQ )

  13. When you break the law, the assumption is that you are already hurting society (although I, personally, think drugs should be legalized). So, it’s not that this woman is insulting some crusty old dude. It’s that she’s not taking seriously the rule of law that is supposed to keep our society in tact. In essence, she was figuratively breaking the law after she literally broke the law. I’m no fan of authority, but this person got what she deserved.

    1. On the contempt bit, perhaps. It’s the bit earlier where she’s just denied a public defender that bothers me.

    2. When you break the law, the assumption is that you are already hurting society

      Well actually, the assumption is that you’re innocent until proven guilty.

    3. xanax is not weed. xanax will kill you.. we had a student die here last year from xanax and less than a 6pack of beer, his girlfriend found him on the floor in the bathroom, and i got to sit next to her in class the next day. (before she decided she couldn’t handle it and left)

      i think we need to legalize some drugs too, but powerful, addictive benzo’s, hell no..

  14. Wow. Sure a lot of “Judge on a powertrip” comments here.  Bunch of armchair lawyers out there? “Oh that fascist judge!!!” Boo freaking hoo.

    Lawyer with experience in the Miami Courts. This was a bond hearing. These things take like three minutes tops.  The woman repeatedly failed to answer basic questions that would help establish her bond amount. Saying you have tons of jewelry and then refusing to say the value means, surprise, your bond goes up.  Had she cooperated she might even have got off on her own recognizance. Instead she messed around with the judge.  He gets to decide the amount based on a number of factors. Clearly she wasn’t taking this seriously when she left, so BAM, $10k.  When she failed to do the smart thing and STFU after that, BAM Contempt of Court.  So many times defendants fail to appreciate the gravity of their situation and think that acting tough will help.  Nope. If you don’t respect the court, you get spanked like the child you are acting like.

    1. At no point in your comment did you imply that justice was served or that anything that the judge did was ethical. However, you did repeatedly justify his use of power to ensure that the woman respected his authority above her. And you also repeatedly mocked the woman, who may be suffering from a substance abuse disorder and potentially other issues (including impulse control).

      I think you may want to reconsider your motivations for posting such a hateful comment.

      1.  So wait we should ignore the rule of law because drug crime laws are obviously unethical and wrong. Then furthermore the courts should recognize this and not enforce the law. Then in cases of obvious contempt like this one they should ignore rule of law again.

        Sorry that’s inconsistent. If you want rule of law and not some corrupt system you need to follow the rule of law. Her contempt charge was completely warranted, it perfectly matches the definition of contempt. To not go through with the contempt charge would be unfair to everyone else. I call that unethical.

        Furthermore, your beef stems from existing law that you consider unethical, the law has to be changed to allow the courts to respond differently. If the courts can’t deal with law, then we don’t have rule of law, then we likely don’t have any semblance of ethical of fair dealing. The ethical thing for the courts to do, given their responsibility is to apply the law.

        1. Contempt does not warrant 30 days in jail especially when the woman may be stoned at the hearing. This woman obviously had no clue what was going on or what her rights were. Holding her in contempt and then confining her for 30 days is a miscarriage of justice. This undermines the rule of law, not strengthens it. One of the things that people who cry “The Rule of Law” always forget is that the Rule of Law doesn’t mean that everyone must obey everything at all times, otherwise we will descend into chaos. It means that the laws are APPLIED fairly to all people, rich and poor. The Rule of Law that you are citing is injustice because it is blind to ethics and justice.

          This poor woman who was treated like an animal did not have the same rights as most people do when they are charged, especially not the rich who have representation. That is what undermines the Rule of Law! Not holding her in contempt, not treating her like an animal, and helping to communicate what was going on would have strengthened the Rule of Law.

          Edit: Oh, and since you are arguing from a Utilitarian “the ends justify the means” perspective with respect to defending The Rule of Law, I would ask you to explain how the core Utilitarian idea of the Harm Principle applies in this case. Who did she harm? Did she harm an idea?

          1. “Contempt does not warrant 30 days in jail ”

            This is nothing but your opinion.  The judge ruled otherwise, and has the full force of the law behind him.  I guess when you are a judge, you will let people treat you however they want.

          2. To summarize your argument: might makes right.

            Did you miss my initial response in this subthread? My core argument was that ethics and justice deserve a place in a court of law. Crazy idea, huh?

          3. Probably bzishi was making a meta-judgment about the justice of the law itself (the reference to utilitarianism, which is an ethical idea rather than a legal one, should have made this fairly obvious if you didn’t pick this up from the rest of the comment), not expressing a legal opinion about what is “warranted” purely within the bounds of current law. Or do you think it’s out-of-bounds to consider whether any law is unjust?

          4. This is nothing but your opinion. The judge ruled otherwise, and has the full force of the law behind him. I guess when you are a judge, you will let people treat you however they want.

            For the millionth time: Dred Scott. Can we stop pretending that judges are magically right?

          5. The harm principle doesn’t apply to contempt because it was between 2 parties.

            There’s a disconnect between us and here’s what I think it is: You see an unethical law and thus transitively anything that occurs due to that law is thus unethical. I disagree, you’ve applied “unethical” in an transitive manner. I disagree because it is illogical. If I commit another a criminal act (defined by an “ethical law”) in custody while under an unethical charge, the fact remains that I committed a criminal act. Her contempt charge is based on her behaviour in court. It doesn’t really matter how she got to court.

            “This poor woman who was treated like an animal did not have the same rights as most people do when they are charged, especially not the rich who have representation.” She has representation on the contempt charge, so this claim of lack of representation is questionable. Furthermore she destroyed her chances of getting a public defender on the drug charge by not disclosing information relevant to be assigned a public defender. The hearing was about representation and bail, I can only assume she was asking for a public defender.

          6. Wrong. First, while I do think drug laws are BS, that is not the basis of my argument. If you think so, then you have misunderstood everything I have written. I am treating the contempt charge separately from the drug charge. The only points I am arguing from an ethical point of view are related to the contempt charge.

            Second, the harm principle applies because it is what defines what actions the government can sanction with the use of force against a citizen. Whether this woman was in court on a drug charge or was just visiting and said “fuck you”, there is no reason that the state should be able to exercise its authority to confine her for 30 days if there is nobody harmed. If she continued to interfere with court proceedings causing a significant delay, attacked other people, smashed the camera, etc., then you would have harm. But in this case saying “fuck you” while walking away harms nobody.

            Finally, are you honestly trying to argue that this woman knew enough about the criminal justice system to make informed decisions? I’m not even sure she knew enough about where she was to make an informed decision.

      2. The time and place to deal with your substance abuse and impulse control problems is probably not at your arraignment (or sentencing).  These are the times that SOCIETY deals with them for you, and if they are so severe that you cannot refrain from open contempt of the situation, then society will deal with them more severely.If you don’t like the absolute power dynamic that judges are given in our criminal justice system to control their courtrooms, there are exactly two things you can do about it: either become a judge who lets the defendants walk all over you, or move beyond our courts’ jurisdiction.

  15. The issue that jumps out for me is that the public defender tried to get himself appointed to the case and the judge didn’t allow it because she didn’t understand why they were asking how much money she had.  That’s the whole point of having representation, so you don’t make a fool of yourself in court.  Bad behavior all around (except maybe for the public defender.)

    1. She also seems to think that her 30 days in jail is her sentence for the Xanax — she seems relieved as if she thought her sentence was a fine of $10,000, and is now happy that it is 30 days in jail instead. She has no idea what is going on. The judge denying her a public defender is contemptible.

  16. I thought the judge showed excellent restraint throughout.  He could have added another 30 for her continuing to talk over him at the end.  As informal as that hearing was, it’s still court.   In the Words of Jackie Brown, “life is hard but it’s harder if you are stupid.”

  17. The girl and the judge are both assholes. The difference is between druggie stupidity and adult, sober vindictiveness.

    The girl was stupid in any number of ways. The judge was being a vindictive prick for denying her a public defender. I can understand being frustrated dealing with a giggling woman-child who was probably high – but he’s supposed to be a grownup. 

    1. Thanks for the update — looks like she wised up and got the arrangement she would have gotten in the first place.  Hopefully it’s a lesson she’ll remember.

      It was also smart of her to braid her hair this time.

    1. I was brought up in a mutually respectful environment, while some of my teachers enforced an authoritarian environment. I am autistic and have trouble reading social and emotional cues. I was and still am unable t figure out the authoritarian social rules.

      Because of this, I was punished for disrespect when I meant no disrespect, punished for asking what teachers expected of me, beaten by one of my teachers, thrown to the bullies by other teachers, punished for screaming when the bullies beat me up during class, and so on.

      I guess I got what was coming to me for not knowing how to respect authoritarian teachers.

      I guess one of my friends got what was coming to her for not knowing how to respect her authoritarian father.

      I also got sexually violated a few years ago, and I learned to hate myself for being sexually violated, and for saying no, and for saying no too loudly, and for pushing back too hard, and for not saying no loudly enough, and for not pushing back hard enough to stop the attacker. Being beaten for non-compliance really fucked me up.

    2. So it’s OK to be disrespectful to anyone, except members of this protected caste with incredibly sensitive feelings.

      You can say ‘fuck you’ to literally anyone in society without criminal consequences.

      The fact that the judge and police are set aside from the rest of society is absurd, but also telling, as they (police at least) can quite literally get away with murder.

  18.  “Say the word, just say the word Bender. If you want another one, just say the word. You mine for two months Bender. I got ya.”

  19. Nathan Hornby, uh, you’re not quite up on how the criminal justice system works.  You say “fuck you” to a judge in court, whether an attorney, a defendant, a spectator, whether you’re crazy, you’re high, you’re legitimately outraged, you’re going to jail.  

    1. But for 30 days? Grossly disproportionate to the offense. The judge could have achieved the same result by postponing her hearing for 24 hours to let her calm down and/or sober up. Are the taxpayers really best served by keeping someone locked up for a full month just because she acted disrespectfully?

      1. I’m getting the hang of the ‘reply’ feature which I meant to use earlier against a different comment…to which I say, I completely agree that it was disproportionate.  However, I see most judges bring the person back in after a few days of cooling their heels then reducing the time.  Is 30 days disproportionate?  Eh, I’ve seen more and I’ve seen less and I have to say her attitude is the absolute worst in front of a judge.  Just from the perspective of ‘how not to act in court’ she hit every button…flirty (judges HATE it), flighty (‘I got Rick Rolls’ worth of jewelry, a Rick Ross reference I assume and not a Rick Astley reference), a sudden change to anger and defiance indicating the prelude to said anger was all an act…if anyone was ever begging to be treated the way she was in court, it was her.

        By the way, I’m a criminal defense lawyer, so I see people get held in contempt on average, once to twice a week.  Normally it’s because they’re drunk.  Lots of people show up to court drunk and high.  A lot.

        As for the taxpayers being well served…well, I sure as shit don’t want to have to pay for it, but then again I don’t want to pay for the millions of non-violent drug offenders period.  On the other hand, I do believe in respect and I believe she paid none of it to the judge.

    2. The police/’justice’ system is our societies highest priestly caste.

      I can say ‘fuck you’ to just about anyone anywhere, and I might get smacked, I might get kicked out of Wal-Mart but I won’t go to jail.

      Say it to a member of the protected caste, and suddenly it’s a crime.

      The fact that most people think it is OK shows how deep the rot goes in our collective consciousness.

  20. I’m surprised how many people are slamming the judge and making broad sweeping statements about the court system, blah blah blah. Look the girl was in trouble with the law, it was a basic bond hearing — all she had to do was answer some questions honestly and the whole process would have been done in 5 min and her bond probably wouldn’t have been that bad.

    Instead, she acted like a little entitled, brat, thinking she’s special and ‘cute’, and was stupid enough to tell a judge to “fuck off”? I’m sorry, I’m not a fan of “the man” either, but seriously — is it so much to expect people to act like grown-up for a few minutes. Maybe she’ll learn her lesson and realize she doesn’t want to be in court ever again. 

    1. Actually, I’m surprised by the opposite. There are a lot of people here applauding the judge for using the power of the state to forcibly confine this woman for thirty days due to the harm she caused by raising her middle finger and saying “fuck you”. Who did she harm? Nobody. She harmed an idea! And that idea (The Rule of Law) apparently isn’t strong enough to survive without periodically making examples out of people.

      1. It’s clear by your posts you have a ‘thing’ with authority. Look, I’m not some reich winger by any stretch, but she broke the law (allegedly), and was there for a reason. I see no problem with the court trying to maintain control over inappropriate behavior in the courtroom and keeping it as civil as possible. The girl brought this shit on herself, period.

        1. You seem to have a bit of a thing about authority as well, i.e. you have some sort emotional reaction to disrespect for authority which causes you to view the issue in moralistic terms, talking about how she’s a “brat” who needs to “learn her lesson” and so forth. (would you have the same reaction if she talked back to an authority you didn’t recognize as “legitimate”, I wonder?) If one instead views authority in purely utilitarian terms, that for example it would impair the functioning of the court system if there were no limits on people’s freedom to say whatever they want in court, then the natural conclusion is that the punishments should be the minimum needed to discourage people from behaving in a way that impairs the court system, the punitive idea of “teaching people a lesson”, above and beyond whatever is necessary to get them to stop being disruptive, wouldn’t enter into it.

          1. I agree with you in part (‘authority in purely utilitarian terms…’) What I have a “thing” with is people (bzishi for ex) making every excuse under the sun for her behavior, most of which as totally blind assumptions on his/her part (she had a bad childhood, is an addict, whatever). Even if that’s true, so what — she can break the law and show contempt for the court and we’re supposed to just say “it’s ok, she had a bad childhood”? My childhood was less than glorious, a lot of it sucked honestly — but it wouldn’t have excused me from following the law, and facing the consequences for breaking it. And again, do you REALLY think it’s ok to give a judge the bird and tell him to fuck off? I do think that’s bratty behavior.

            This would be a whole other thread, but I think she probably is a Generation Y. I’ve had some of them work for me, narcissistic, self-absorbed, entitled, think they’re special when they haven’t accomplished squat yet, and act indignant when you ask them to work and stop with FB/Twitter/etc. So my remarks of her acting like a brat in part come from having dealt with people like her in the workforce, and brat is a good word for it.

            Interesting discussion, but life calls, gotta jet. Cheers.

          2. That’s funny. I have a “thing” with certain people who call people they’ve never met a “b*tch” and a “piece of shit”. I also have a “thing” with certain people who think someone should be punished but can’t tell me of a single person that the has been harmed by their behavior.

            I guess we just weren’t destined to be friends.

        2. Except, as is the norm in our whole broken evil system, they were protecting the ‘civility’ in the court by throwing her in a cage with violent people and/or extracting money from her.

          Give her a lecture on manners? Make her write 100 times on a chalkboard? Fine. Throw her in a cage? That’s called kidnapping if anyone else does it.

      2. You’ve hit the nail on the head.

        The Rule of Law isn’t strong enough to survive on its own.  The awful thing about us humans is we’ll do any old shit to get whatever it is we want.  Ethical and moral systems be damned – as soon as the cops ain’t looking, people loot.  Priests rape kids.  Tobacco companies poison everyone.

        As much as anarchists love the idea of anarchy, the reality is less than attractive.  And it’s always worth remembering just how close to anarchy we always are – four days without food, right?  Anarchists in charge are simply egomaniacs of a different breed, perhaps more likely to spill blood.

        Of course, we need to keep a check on the people implementing the law, otherwise, being people, they’ll screw us over royally.  More than they do now.

        The theory is that as soon as people get a scent that the Rule of Law is softening, they move in on it like wolves.

      3. Man, I’ve read all your posts and it shows, to me, a shocking amount of naivete and ignorance of the criminal justice system. First, as someone with a LOT of experience with clients who have been high or drunk or in court, she doesn’t strike me as especially high.  And most, if not all courts, do not wait for someone to sober up before setting bond, since it needs to be set as soon as possible, otherwise, you’re depriving them of their right not be held without due process.  So, there’s a conflict there.  And she was not that “high” if she was at all.

        So, let’s assume she has a drug problem.  Let’s assume, as you have, without knowledge, that she has never been in the court system before.  Let’s assume all that.  Let’s concede that she doesn’t ‘harm’ the judge by flipping him off.

        You’re still wrong.  The court is not a foreign place.  It’s not a concept we don’t understand, even at the age of 18.  She has been arrested.  Cuffs were placed on her, she was taken in a police car to a police station and spent the night in lock up and was told prior to her hearing what was going on.

        She understood that she was seeing a judge.  And she treated the whole thing like 1) a joke 2) something she could flirt her way out of and then 3) anger and defiance when her inappropriate behavior was called out on (and by the way, the bond, as set, was appropriate to begin with and still appropriate even after it was raised).  So, why should judges not be able to enforce the order and decorum we expect of the criminal justice system?  Why can’t the judge expect her to behave with a modicum of respect?  I have seen drunk, crazy and stoned people act with more decorum than she did.  

        1. And why would you respect a person who you’ve never met and who shows no respect for you? Because they are paragons of integrity, who represent and embody the infallibility of the criminal justice system? Of course not. No. That’s not respect. It is fear of what that system can do to you. If you’re privileged and you work within the system you may lose that fear and sublimate it into ‘decorum’. If you’re a good citizen you hide your fear behind a display of respect. If not, you continue to fear the power those on the inside have over you. Whatever state of mind she was in, and for whatever reason, the thing that strikes me is that she had none of that fear. She was naive. That in itself was more subversion than a pompous justice system that relies on fear for self-gratification can tolerate.

          All the rules of due process would work just aswell without the ‘decorum’. It’s about the bloody law, is it not. A judge may sentence with or without ‘respect’, the outcome is the same. Heck they did get rid of the wigs after forever, and apparently the system was not particularly impaired by that.

          However… watching the video again I really think the judge is being an asshole here and he’s playing a game for his own amusement. When he insists on getting an answer about the worth of her ‘jewerry’, she can’t answer that. Her jewelry is probably worth zilch, and she doesn’t want to admit to that. False pride. He sees it and plays on that. Then he says bye-bye. When she responds in kind he finds her in contempt. How unprofessional is that?

          Decorum my ass.

        2. Someone who is being paid 6 figures to parade around and put a facade of deceny around the act lock me in a cage with violent people for a victimless crime?

          No, sorry, fuck them – they deserve zero respect.

          The judge is one of millions of accomplices to a criminal system. Fuck them.

        3. And yet again, here we have ANOTHER post where a person can’t demonstrate a single person that this woman harmed by flipping off a judge while walking away.

          For some reason, everybody who responds to me seems to think I care about the procedures of the criminal justice system. I don’t. I worked for 6 months with a very level headed city judge. I have more than a passing idea how it works. Cases like the judge in the video are how it doesn’t work and it horrifies me.

          What I care about is the ethics: is it right or wrong? Should the judge have sentenced this woman to 30 days? And the central question there is whether the state should have the power to forcibly confine a woman if it can’t demonstrate that she harmed anyone. If you cannot answer this question, then you aren’t debating me, you are just running around in circles confusing yourself.

  21. He is just trying to get her attention. He will likely drop it or lower the sentence. The follow up shows how it might have gone had she cooperated. They give her “the program”(probably a drug education class) and if she takes it the drug charges are dropped. You don’t have to be nice to someone to show compassion. The poor thing needed a wake up call.

    1. No, the judge is refusing to reduce the 30 days in jail. (see link in Kilfoil’s post).  That is abusive.  She’s just a dumb kid who said ‘adios’ and then in response, he doubled the bond to 10K.  And then when she reacted, he put her in jail for 30 days.  

  22. This highlights the absurdity of drug prohibition. None of this would have happened if Xanax possession were legal.

    1. the base dosage for alprazolam is .25mg. the largest dosage you can get in one pill is the “totem pole” or “bar” (i’m assuming that’s what she had, because the other available dosages are just pills..) is 2mg. ibuprofen is 200x that.  if you are healthy, you can take a MASSIVE dose of xanax and survive. if you have liver problems, much, much less.

      BUT, if you’re a kid at a party, and you’ve had a couple of mixed drinks or a few beers, and you take 2mg of xanax, it can stop your heart, especially if you have no tolerance for the drug.

      CNS depressants, especially benzodiazepines are sneaky like that, and xanax is a pretty powerful one. i said it above, i’ll say it again, grass is one thing, but a drug that can kill you outright under common circumstances probably shouldn’t be unscheduled.

      not to mention the fact that xanax is SUPER addictive, a good friend of mine checked himself into the nut house when i was younger in an attempt to get off the stuff. a quick google search will give you tons of info on what a pain in the ass it is to stop, and the problems if you just quit outright.

  23. Judge was playing for the crowd, when he flirts with her by saying bye-bye.    He punishes her for saying Adios?  WTF.   The judge has a job to do, and its not to try to get into a fight trying to be cute.   The Judge had no right to punish her for responding to him.    This is why the people should be before the judge and not in some sort of room being video taped, and broadcast.

  24. I know no one is going to get to the bottom of this thread and read my comment, but… I think it’s perfectly legitimate that someone who has been put into a cage for having drugs on them to say “fuck you” to the person who is cold-heartedly assigning them the role of “criminal” in our society. I’d like to see how that judge would act if someone locked him up and then asked him questions that probably struck him as nonsensical and then grew angry when he didn’t play nice.

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