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. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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