A yawn of contempt

August 13, 2009
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Sometimes, yawning can be criminal.

Just ask Clifton Williams. The Illinois resident was sentenced to six months in jail for yawning during his cousin’s guilty plea to a felony drug charge. His family maintains it was just a yawn, nothing more; the state attorney and judge felt it was disruptive and justified the criminal contempt charge.

According to a Chicago Tribune story, Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak isn’t shy about finding people in contempt. He jails people at a higher rate than any other judge in Will County. If you ever find yourself in his courtroom, make sure not to yawn, have your cell phone off, and don’t scream or shout profanities, and you should be fine.

You could argue Judge Rozak is just trying to run a tight ship, making sure that everyone in his courtroom is respectful. You could also argue he’s “trigger happy” when it comes to ordering people to jail for contempt.

Judges need to be able to control their courtroom, and I have no problem finding people in contempt. Even if Williams was loud and disruptive when yawning, does it justify a six-month sentence? Granted, he shouldn’t be in jail that long, but if that’s what you’re sentenced to, there’s always the possibility you’ll be in jail longer than you’d like. Williams has been in jail since July 23 and will serve at least 21 days.

Williams’ cousin, on the other hand, got two years probation.
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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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