“Judge sentences man to 6 months in jail for yawning”

by Walter Olson on August 14, 2009

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said the yawn, by a cousin of a drug defendant at his plea, was “a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings”. The Chicago Tribune says the judge in question, Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak of Will County, resorts to contempt findings unusually often. The judge later released Clifton Williams after he had served 21 days. [Chicago Tribune, ABA Journal, Solove/Concurring Opinions]

{ 3 comments }

1 Todd Rogers 08.14.09 at 1:04 pm

I read this story a couple of days ago (via Drudge I believe). Of course I wasn’t there. So, I can only imagine how the events played out. My suspicions are that the guy who yawned didn’t just open his mouth, politely cover it with his hand, make a gentle “ywhaaa” sounds, and go about his business. I suspect that the gesture may have been voluntary, superfluous, and intended as a “screw you and your pathetic sentences” to the court. Additionally, anyone who comes before this judge surely knows (or should have known) of 1) his intolerance of shenanigans and 2) his pattern of old-west summary punishments. Why test it? Political speech? I bet he’ll never do that again. Does the punishment fit the offense? I’ll leave that for another day.

2 kimsch 08.14.09 at 8:10 pm

He was interviewed on local news yesterday when he was released. Apparently it was a somewhat exaggerated yawn, and quite loud, not just an involuntary yawn at his cousin’s plea bargain.

3 Chris Mallory 08.15.09 at 4:17 pm

Political speech that should be protected. Judges need to be stripped of much of this “contempt” power. They need to remember that the court room belongs to tax paying citizens, not the cross dressing tyrants who sit in the high chair.

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