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http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-jailed-for-yawning-10-aug10,0,3679452.story

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/weird/Yawn-in-Court-Earns-Prison-Time-52880012.html

Judge sentences man to 6 months in jail for yawning
6-month term given by judge who has doled out the most charges of contempt in Will

By Steve Schmadeke Tribune reporter

August 10, 2009

Clifton Williams arrived at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet and sat in the fourth-floor courtroom where his cousin was pleading guilty to a felony drug charge.

As Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak handed down the cousin's sentence -- 2 years' probation -- Williams, 33, stretched and let out a very ill-timed yawn.

Williams' sentence? Six months in jail -- the maximum penalty for criminal contempt without a jury trial. The Richton Park man was locked up July 23 and will serve at least 21 days.

"I was flabbergasted because I didn't realize a judge could do that," said Williams' father, Clifton Williams Sr. "It seems to me like a yawn is an involuntary action."

Chuck Pelkie, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, said the prosecutor in the courtroom that day told him that "it was not a simple yawn -- it was a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings."

Jason Mayfield, the cousin of Williams who was pleading guilty at the time, said it was "not an outrageous yawn."

A Tribune review of a decade's worth of contempt-of-court charges reveals that Rozak jails people -- typically spectators whose cell phones go off or who scream or shout profanity during sentencing -- at a far higher rate than any other judge in the county. There are now 30 judges in the 12th Judicial Circuit, but since 1999, Rozak has brought more than a third of all the contempt charges, records show.

And while it is not uncommon for judges to jail people for ignoring subpoenas or court orders or appearing in court drunk or under the influence of drugs, Rozak's charges tend to involve behavior that would not otherwise be criminal.

Judges have broad discretion under the law, which defines contempt as acts that embarrass, hinder or obstruct the court in its administration of justice or lessen its authority or dignity. As long as the sentence is not longer than 6 months, there is no review of the case -- unless the offender appeals to the judge or a higher court.

"We want judges to be able to manage the courtroom ... but we have some concern that when the contempt is personal, judges might react too harshly," said University of Chicago law professor Adam Samaha. "Contempt that happens right in the judge's face is likely to trigger an emotional reaction."

Observers describe Rozak as running the type of strict courtroom that was common a few decades ago. Defense attorneys say Rozak is "tough but fair" and runs particularly well-managed trials. Rozak has been elected in 2000 and 2006, both times with recommendations from the state bar association.

"I think he's terrific -- he understands how the world works," said Joliet defense attorney David Carlson. "Some of the most serious felonies we have are handled in his courtroom, so I think there should be a level of seriousness and decorum."

So far this year, five criminal contempt charges have been brought by Will County judges. Four of them were brought by Rozak, including the case of Derrick Lee, a Joliet man who "resisted" sitting where sheriff's deputies directed him, talked in a "very loud" voice during court and referred to Rozak as "boss," according to the judge's contempt order. Lee, who also was wanted on an outstanding warrant, was sentenced to 30 days but was released two days later after apologizing.

Chief Judge Gerald Kinney said he couldn't comment on the propriety of Williams' case, but said he would have liked a more detailed order from Rozak in imposing the maximum penalty. He was not aware that Rozak brings a high percentage of contempt charges and said he has not received a significant number of complaints about the judge.

Rozak could not be reached for comment.

Rozak's order sentencing Williams to 6 months in jail found that he "raised his hands while at the same time making a loud yawning sound" that caused the judge to "break from the proceedings."

"I really can't believe I'm in jail," Williams wrote his family in a letter. "I done set (sic) in this [expletive] a week so far for nothing."

People in other Will County courtrooms have received less severe sentences for seemingly more flagrant offenses. In Judge Richard Schoenstedt's court last year, a woman was disruptive during closing arguments of a trial; shouted, "This is bull ..." as she was led away; was held to the floor by a deputy; and "continued to be disruptive" after later being brought back before the judge. She received a 7-day sentence for contempt, records show.

Rozak has sentenced more spectators to jail for infractions involving cell phones than any other judge in Will County in the last decade. In 2003, a man who called the judge an "ass" after Rozak ordered him to turn over the phone when it rang in court was sentenced to 10 days but did just 24 hours after apologizing to the judge.

Three years later, a man twice refused to turn over his ringing cell phone to a deputy and then, his phone ringing before the bench, refused to hand it to Rozak. He also received a 6-month sentence, but it was reduced to 18 days after the man apologized, records show.

In the two-story brick home where Williams had been living with his aunt Cheryl Mayfield and caring for his 79-year-old grandmother, family members said they were in shock over the sentence but were unable to afford an attorney to appeal.

"This is ridiculous -- you've got all these people shooting up kids, and here this boy yawns in court [and gets 6 months]. It's crazy," she said. "This could happen to any one of us."
 

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You must remember:
When in a courtroom you are at the mercy of the power of the state. Judges are virtally immune to any repercussion for actions they take. A judge may not be god, but you can be certain he thinks he is. And the bialiff is his (insert appropriate word)-licker, happy to do his master's bidding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's ridiculous... I knew judges had power but that's overkill.
 

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I got contempt for not standing when the judge entered the courtroom...I was out an hour later after citing religious beliefs (Society of Friends, better known as Quakers) He was so pissed, I hope I am never in his courtroom again or I'm F-ed for sure ha.
 

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Good for him. Seriously, if you don't want to follow the rules, stay at home. Waiting for an important phone call? Go outside. The police tell you to do something? Do it. Sue them later if they were wrong, but right now do what you are damn well told. You act in a disrespectful manner, that is contempt, and you get punished. If more judges and people didn't put up with the BS, our society would be a lot more polite, and a lot more respectful.

That guy didn't go to jail for yawning. He went to jail for his actions that essentially said that he had a total lack of respect for the law, the people of this country, the victims, the judge and the legal system, and for interrupting that judge, as well as making a mockery of the court, the jurors and the prosecutors. And the judge punished him for it. The freaking punk deserved it.

You act like a prick, be prepared for the consequences of your actions.
 

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I think there are a lot worse things going on in the world than to worry about people yawning during court. If I were in court, I couldn't give a crap if someone dropped their pants and took an epic dump on the floor. I'd rather jail cells not be wasted on yawners and have more paedophiles, rapists, and other dangerous deviants occupying them.
 

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Great, so....
which offenses will we be NOT putting people in jail for? Where do we draw the line? How many people do you have to affect before it become a jailable offense? Only if you hurt someone? Only if you steal more than $1000?
I hear you, it really sucks that the people of the state will be paying around $12,000 to keep his sorry butt in jail for 6 months. But it isn't the judge's fault. Make his damn parents pay for it, since they didn't teach him any manners, or make him pay into an account for the next few years to pay off the debt of what HE cost the taxpayers.

Hey, that might be an idea....what if criminals had to do the time, then had to pay for the amount we "loaned" them, to pay for their incarceration? Sort of like a student loan... :devilsidesmile:
 

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Hey, that might be an idea....what if criminals had to do the time, then had to pay for the amount we "loaned" them, to pay for their incarceration? Sort of like a student loan... :devilsidesmile:
That's the best freaking idea I've heard in a long time!

My point is that being rude isn't a criminal offence. It is certainly an act of douchebaggery, but it isn't criminal. I think that such rude people as those who make excessive noise or other rude acts in restaurants, movie theatres, courtrooms, etc. should be removed from the area, but not incarcerated.
 

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Good point, I'll buy that. Make it a fine or better yet, some community service, and get his punk butt off to work to pay for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
All I know is I wouldn't take a bullet for that judge, sentence criminals not tired people.
I deal with douchebags and a**holes all day doesn't mean I f*** them over for extremely minor things, then again that judge is probably old and crotchety. Maybe the guy should have just been shot then he couldn't be a repeat offender...
 

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Great, so....
which offenses will we be NOT putting people in jail for? Where do we draw the line? How many people do you have to affect before it become a jailable offense? Only if you hurt someone? Only if you steal more than $1000?
I beg your pardon? He yawned! It happens! He was tired after a long day and some dull court proceedings. He wasn't being rude, he was being tired. To give him jail time is the height of folly.

Your slippery slope argument is like saying "well, I'd punch a guy for feeling up my girlfriend, so where does it end? I guess I'll just knock him flat for looking at her..."
 

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Hey, that might be an idea....what if criminals had to do the time, then had to pay for the amount we "loaned" them, to pay for their incarceration? Sort of like a student loan... :devilsidesmile:
Think about how much it would cost, when they DO default the loan, and the beurocracy that rises up in that instance to credit hassle criminals. It would make a losing endeavor, and much more costly losing endeavor trying to collect from people who can't get it right in the first place. LOL

The "system" doesn't fine real criminals. It knows they will never pay it.

The "system" doesn't fine really rich people either. It knows they will pay an attorney twice what they are fined, just to prove they don't have to pay it.

The "system" is designed to hit middle America, who have OK jobs, Little extra time, and a constant state of manic rushing and shopping to attend to. That way one simple threat of losing a license, or a week in the clink, or anything that slows down or inhibits their suburban lifestyles, puts them into an instantly more agreeable state to paying a set fee fine, that is quick and painless, and to boot, offers repeat offenders the luxery of not having any of those records made permanent as long as they plead no contest and pay the fines before they leave the courtroom.

That's not justice. That's extremely efficient state rackateering.
 

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I beg your pardon? He yawned! It happens! He was tired after a long day and some dull court proceedings. He wasn't being rude, he was being tired. To give him jail time is the height of folly.
You really need to get out more. I'll guarandamntee you, that prick was being a prick on purpose. You don't stretch and yawn and call attention to yourself in a court room by just being tired and yawning, he was making sure somebody saw him, and showing his contempt for OUR system. This wasn't a stupid teen movie or a music video where the punk kids are cool and the adults are clueless, this was a punk ass jerk showing his contempt and and he was damn well being rude on purpose. You want to act like some PC lawyer and play the semantics game like Clinton did, just to excuse a punk for being a jerk, then you may as well put your manhood on the table and cut it off, as you are officially acting like you lack a pair anyway.
 

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I beg your pardon? He yawned! It happens! He was tired after a long day and some dull court proceedings. He wasn't being rude, he was being tired. To give him jail time is the height of folly.
You really need to get out more. I'll guarandamntee you, that prick was being a prick on purpose. You don't stretch and yawn and call attention to yourself in a court room by just being tired and yawning, he was making sure somebody saw him, and showing his contempt for OUR system. This wasn't a stupid teen movie or a music video where the punk kids are cool and the adults are clueless, this was a punk ass jerk showing his contempt and and he was damn well being rude on purpose. You want to act like some PC lawyer and play the semantics game like Clinton did, just to excuse a punk for being a jerk, then you may as well put your manhood on the table and cut it off, as you are officially acting like you lack a pair anyway.
Because YOU were there. YOU know everything that happened, for sure. How about until you know for sure, you stop ASSuming, and judge based on a little thing called "Innocent until proven guilty".....6 months for yawning, deliberately or not, is BS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I beg your pardon? He yawned! It happens! He was tired after a long day and some dull court proceedings. He wasn't being rude, he was being tired. To give him jail time is the height of folly.
You really need to get out more. I'll guarandamntee you, that prick was being a prick on purpose. You don't stretch and yawn and call attention to yourself in a court room by just being tired and yawning, he was making sure somebody saw him, and showing his contempt for OUR system. This wasn't a stupid teen movie or a music video where the punk kids are cool and the adults are clueless, this was a punk ass jerk showing his contempt and and he was damn well being rude on purpose. You want to act like some PC lawyer and play the semantics game like Clinton did, just to excuse a punk for being a jerk, then you may as well put your manhood on the table and cut it off, as you are officially acting like you lack a pair anyway.
Do you really think half a year in jail is fair punishment for such a minor infraction? Why not do 72 hours community service or something...
 

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Branth.....Right...sounds like you made an assumption as well...why do you assume I was NOT there? And why, when I say he was rude and showing contempt, I'm an A$$ and I can't be right, as I wasn't there; but when others who also weren't there say he was just tired, give the brother a break, they're are somehow NOT making assumptions? BTW, he WAS proven guilty, by the judge, that's why he was sentenced. And guess what, there is no jury in this type of case. It is a done deal. I bet you think OJ was innocent too? And he WAS "proven" innocent, once.
You argue like my junior high students, or a member of the present POTUS staff.
I'm going to ASSume you need to grow the flock up.

Andronicus, I'm with you, 6 months is too much, and I like your idea of community service. Good call.
 

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What gets me is Felony DRUG charge gets you probation. Yet Yawning regardless of disruptive nature or not gets you Jail time.

Kinda messed up if you ask me.

Its like murder gets you a few years but telling the judge to "F" off gets you the death penalty???

No argument over the sentencing rationality just the Yawn? Good thing the one guys mom wasn't there busting out with tears. She may have gotten a life sentence.
 
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