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Contempt of Court

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Is it proper for a judge to put someone in jail for cursing at him or just in general?


I present 3 examples:


1) Defendant gets 4 months for swearing at the Judge after he left the courtroom.




After the judge left the courtroom Peoples told a clerk, “Tell Judge Currie get the f— off all my cases.” The clerk told Judge Currie, who began the process of holding Peoples in criminal contempt. She handed the case off to another federal judge, who convicted Peoples and sentenced him to four months in prison.


2) Man gets 28 days for swearing while in the audience.




Grant, 26, of Gisborne, was in the public gallery to support a friend appearing in court. He was unhappy at the outcome of his friend's appearance and, just as he was leaving, yelled out to Judge Adeane: "Is that all, c...?"


He was called to appear before the same judge in Napier on Monday and was sent to jail for contempt of court.


"Your outburst was simply arrogant, angry, rude, disrespectful defiance of the court, and that will not be tolerated," Judge Adeane told him. "It needs to be known ... particularly in Gisborne, where there is a specific problem."


3) Girls gets bond raised to $10,000 for attitude and then 30 days in jail for cursing.




Is any of this proper, or is it an abuse of power and violation of rights?


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This one, from just over a month ago, wasn't even a case of cursing. 


Slap on Rear Gets Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson 30 Days in Jail

It was all set until Johnson, when asked by McHugh if he was satisfied with his lawyer, Adam Swickle, gave the attorney a light tap on the rear – as football players routinely do to each other on the field.

The courtroom erupted in laughter, but McHugh apparently was not amused.

“I don’t know that you’re taking this whole thing seriously,” McHugh said. “I just saw you slap your attorney on the backside. Is there something funny about this? The whole courtroom was laughing. I’m not going to accept these plea negotiations. This isn’t a joke.”

Johnson tried to apologize, but the judge wasn’t swayed.

Johnson was handcuffed and led away from the court. He later tweeted to his 4.2 million followers on Twitter, ”Love me through the good and the bad because I’m gone love you regardless… See you in 30.”


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Sending someone to jail for a brief outburst, or what dumb Ochocinco did, is a bit steep. But there should be a penalty (a fine), sure.


As far as someone continually and willfully disrupting Court proceedings, on the other hand, yes, jail-time is appropriate. How else would trials be held? Without those penalties, all trials would look like Saddam Hussein's. 

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I think there must be a distinction between what's destructive and what's simply rude.


A courtroom has a specific purpose and function, which require certain conditions be met.

If an angry mob decides to march around the courthouse, chanting slogans so loudly that the proceedings inside cannot take place- it should be considered an obstruction of justice, just as if someone slashed the tires of a police car or kidnapped the prosecutor (et cetera, et cetera).


Anything which specifically prevents the court from functioning is effectively preventing the government from functioning- which (assuming this government is just and proper) is a flagrant violation of its citizens' rights.


However, anything which does NOT prevent the court from functioning should be permitted.  Peacefully voicing one's opinion is analogous to a peaceful protest and must be treated accordingly.


Peoples' rights were violated.  Grant. . . Not so much.

It's one thing to tell the judge what you think of them; it's another to disrupt the proceedings with it.

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