Judge orders defendant's mouth taped in courtroom in viral video
John J. Russo, a judge of the Common Pleas Court in Cleveland, ordered the deputy in the trial to duct-tape the mouth of 32-year-old Franklyn Williams.
The video that Fox 8 News Cleveland uploaded showed Williams sitting in front of the jury while his attorneys and a couple of police officers were around him. During the court proceedings, the man had several outbursts, interrupting others while they talked.
Judge Russo asked him multiple times to stay quiet while he and the rest of the people in court talked, but Williams wouldn’t stop talking. At one point, Russo warned him that if he didn’t shut up, he would order to duct-tape him.
Williams apparently thought that Russo wouldn’t do that, so he kept talking. Russo immediately told the deputies to cover his mouth.
The clip then showed how six officers approached him. When Williams tried to stand up, one of them held him tight and sat him back in his char.
Then, that same officer used a red duct-tape to shut his mouth and the court proceedings re-started. While some people considered that what Russo did was exactly what should be done, others, like the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, condemned his decision.
Some people labeled the action as not normal and humiliating as it didn’t just deprive a man the opportunity to speak, it also stole his dignity.
Outrageous. Franklyn Williams was shackled and silenced by a judge who refused to listen to his pleas. This is not justice, this is an assault on the rights of a Black man in court. https://t.co/XOj59r9trn— Rashad Robinson (@rashadrobinson) August 2, 2018
Others pointed out that it was not justice and rather called it an assault on the rights of a black man in court. Soon after that, Russo understood that what he did was wrong and issued an apology.
"We cannot regard this as normal. It is humiliating. It doesn’t just deprive this person of the opportunity to speak before his life is taken away, it steals his dignity. Everything about this is wrong," said our staff attorney @elizabethbonham https://t.co/xsRRTkqRGg— ACLU of Ohio (@acluohio) August 1, 2018
HE TOOK HIMSELF OUT OF THE CASE
After apologizing and saying that he regretted ordering the policeman to cover Williams’ mouth as it was not the best choice, he took himself off the case. Russo added that even though there were legal precedents for gagging a defendant to keep order in a court, he was sorry for taking that action.
A JUDGE ORDERED THESE WHITE COPS TO DUCT TAPE THIS BLACK MAN’S MOUTH SHUT DURING HIS TRIAL, RIGHT IN FRONT OF CAMERAS.— Ash Haddad🎙 VO (@AshleighHaddad) August 5, 2018
THIS IS 2018. https://t.co/0tSaBwThuC
“Despite many warnings for you to stop your frequent and offensive outbursts — I believe it was over 60 interruptions in 54 minutes — you continued to interrupt and hinder the legal procedures of the court, procedures that are designed to protect your rights, the rights of your victims and the justice system,” added Russo.
Williams was sentenced to 24 years in prison on different charges, including robbery, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping.
ANOTHER BAD DECISION TAKEN BY A JUDGE IN COURT
A judge in Maryland named Robert C. Nalley ordered officers to physically shock a defendant in his courtroom in 2014 when the man wouldn’t stop talking.
The CCTV recording showed how the judge told the officer “Do it. Use it,” so he activated the stun-cuff the defendant was wearing, and he then fell to the ground in pain.
Nalley had to take anger-management classes as part of his sentence, and he stopped working as a judge after that incident.