Mr. Smith (that’s his name, really) was sentenced to 21 years for six drug offenses. He requested a new trial, fired his lawyer, and represented himself at the hearing on his request for a new trial. Mr. Smith’s “first use of profanity occurred when he used the word ‘fuck,’ apparently for emphasis [Well I never!], in recalling an earlier conversation with his trial counsel who allegedly invited [Smith] to [appeal] based on ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.” The Judge warned him, but damned if it didn’t slip out again. Contempt #1. Six pages of trial transcript later, f-bomb number 2, and Contempt #2. And what do you think Mr. Smith said after the second contempt? “Shit.” Really. The Judge let that one go.
No more bombs for 37 pages of trial transcript. But when it became clear that Mr. Smith was SOL, he interrupted the Judge with “That’s bullshit. That’s bullshit.” The Judge ignored the BS-bombs. Mr. Smith later dropped the B-bomb (bitch), also ignored. But when it came time to sentence Mr. Smith for Contempts 1 & 2, things heated up a little bit.
THE DEFENDANT: What is the maximum on contempt, sir?
THE COURT: What is the maximum on contempt? If I am going to give you in excess of six months, I believe I have to give you a jury trial, is that correct …?
[STATE'S ATTORNEY]: Yes.
THE DEFENDANT: … from day one, you have been prejudiced to the defense …. I am not asking you to believe me. I am only asking to bring forth witnesses in this case who could testify —
THE COURT: I asked you if you had anything you want to say as to what sentence the Court should impose —
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah. You know what? You can give me six more months, motherfucker, for sucking my dick, you punk ass bitch. You should have a white robe on, motherfucker, instead of a black. Fuck you.
THE COURT: I find you in contempt again.
THE DEFENDANT: Fuck you in contempt again.
THE COURT: I find you three times in contempt —
THE DEFENDANT: Fuck you. And fuck.
THE COURT: On each charge, the Court will impose a sentence of five months to run consecutive to each other and consecutive to any sentence you are now serving or obligated to serve.
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah. You better leave now, you, Ku Klux Klan.
THE COURT: The Court will adjourn. [Not so fast, there.]
THE DEFENDANT: Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you, you, Ku Klux Klan —
(Whereupon, the Proceedings were concluded.)
So what do you think the Maryland Court of Appeals decided – three contempts or one?
Three. The Maryland Court of appeals concluded that the three instances were at different parts of the proceeding, that Mr. Smith demonstrated he was able to control himself, that he had been warned and given leniency, and that the Judge in no way egged him on. They stated that a Judge must be able to maintain the proceedings in an orderly manner. The case is Smith v. State (Md. Ct. App. 2004) and can be read in it’s entirety by clicking here.