Articles Posted in Contempt!

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There are many times when you just say “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” or, and especially “yes, your honor.” And even if you’re not going to be polite, it’s just not a good idea to go all the way to the other end of the spectrum, as this gent in New Mexico found out. As reported by (Albuquerque, New Mexico):

A man already facing an aggravated assault charge for allegedly attacking a bus driver got himself into even more trouble when he tried to talk tough to a judge Saturday.

So what brought this gent to court?

According to a criminal complaint, Thomas Crum tried to get onto a bus near Eubank and Copper on Friday with an expired bus pass. When the driver wouldn’t let him on, police say Crum pulled out a folding knife and threatened the driver with it before punching him across the face.

Crum was arrested and taken to jail.

It’s the bus driver’s fault your pass is expired? Mr. Crum is lucky he didn’t draw The Juice’s friend who drives a bus, or the story would have been “Bam! Bus driver serves up instant justice to attacking passenger. It was over after one punch.”

So what exactly went down with Mr. Crum and the Judge?

In court Saturday, he wanted Judge Daniel Ramczyk to let him go free without a bond.

“I would like you to release me on my own recognizance on the simple fact that I will not brandish arms,” Crum said. “I do not carry a gun.”

But given Crum’s criminal history in New Mexico and Texas, and pending shoplifting and DWI charges from separate cases, Ramczyk was not swayed. He still set a bond for Crum and ordered him not to ride on any city buses.

That’s when things got ugly.

Well, kind of ugly. It’s all relative, I guess. If you want to see “ugly,” click here. Back to Mr. Crum …

As Crum was being led away, he had some words for the officers with him that were picked up by the microphone.

“Don’t touch me man, don’t touch me dog, you already know what’s up,” Crum said. “I’m not afraid of you or that f***ing judge.”

That last comment made the judge furious.

“I find you in direct contempt of court for the disrespect and the foul language you used,” Ramczyk told Crum. “Shame on you.”

Even that wasn’t enough to keep Crum quiet.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked the judge before he was led away for the final time.

Yeah, you’re the guy who’s going to be sitting in jail unless he can come up with $1,000 (10% of the bond).

Crum was given a $10,000 cash or surety bond.

Here’s the source.

(Don’t forget who brings you Legal Juice every day, and has for the past 8 years. (Yes, there are thousands of posts at  The Juice is a personal injury lawyer who represents folks injured in automobile, bicycle and pedestrian accidents in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.)

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Unless it’s a traffic ticket where you don’t have much to lose, it’s just not a good idea to represent yourself.  This point is made over and over by cases like this. As reported by Courthouse News Service:

On trial for mail and wire fraud, fallen real estate mogul Luke Brugnara [who is representing himself] blamed his treatment at the Alameda County jail for his bizarre behavior in court and demanded that U.S. District Judge Alsup allow this explanation to be given to the jury.

“If I were in the jury box, I’d think this guy is nuts,” Brugnara said, launching into a rant about how he has not been allowed to shower or shave for five days and that deputies are trying to prevent him from preparing for trial by repeatedly throwing his legal papers into garbage bags.

Brugnara also spent this past weekend on suicide watch in Santa Rita jail, where he claims to have been thrown naked into a cell caked with feces for 30 hours. Since the incident, he has taken to calling the deputies his “North Vietnamese captors.”

“I haven’t showered, haven’t shaved. That’s why I’m acting crazy,” he told the judge.

What are the charges?

… allegedly conning a New York art dealer out of $11 million in fine art including a missing Edgar Degas sculpture …

The trial sounds, well, interesting, and challenging.

[Brugnara]  has consistently bullied witnesses, argued with the U.S. attorneys and generally turned the court into a lurid spectacle for nearly two weeks.

“You’re trying to turn this trial into the biggest train wreck you can,” Alsup said Tuesday.

Alsup, who seems to fully believe that Brugnara is deliberately hanging himself in order to get the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn his inevitable conviction, has so far added 295 days to Brugnara’s sentence for summary contempt – earning 111 of those days for calling U.S. District Attorney Robin Harris a “Nazi” in court on Tuesday.

“You’re racking up a lot of time in this case. You deserve more,” Alsup said.

“She’s worse than a Nazi in my opinion,” Brugnara said. “And you don’t care about me; none of you care about me. It’s not fair. You’ve orchestrated this whole case and because you don’t like the way I communicate, you’re punishing me.”

“I’m not going to try to argue with you on the falsehoods in your speech. You got away earlier with saying Ms. Harris dresses like she’s in North Korea,” Alsup fired back.

On Wednesday, Brugnara fought with Alsup over the contempt sentences. “If you hate me that much, why don’t you just recuse yourself? Say, ‘I fucking hate you’ and recuse yourself.”

Harris asked Alsup to keep Brugnara from bringing up the summary contempt orders in front of the jury.

“You think that will do any good?” Alsup asked wearily.

Brugnara interjected, “Can you just hand Ms. Harris your robe? Because she’s trying to direct the court.”

You get the idea. And the judge’s displeasure with Mr. Brugnara began before the trial.

The judge is still steaming from Brugnara’s defiance of a furlough order that allowed him to meet with his former court-appointed attorney, Erik Babcock, at the San Francisco Federal Building. Brugnara walked out of the building after a meeting with Babcock on February 5 and spent six days on the lam before being apprehended by the FBI.

At a hearing after Wednesday’s proceedings, Alsup addressed the only defense Brugnara has for that escape, U.S. Supreme Court case United States vs. Bailey.

Under Bailey, duress or necessity can be used as a defense to an escape charge. Brugnara claims that he was dying of malnourishment in the Glenn Dyer jail in Oakland and fully intended to return for his trial, originally scheduled to begin Feb. 26.

Although The Juice is not a criminal lawyer, he feels confident saying “good luck with that one.” You’ll find the source here.

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As reported by the Spokesman-Review:

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza apparently has a dim view of people swearing in his courtroom. He halted proceedings midway through Friday’s first appearance docket after a teenager got up and stormed out of the courtroom, leaving a string of expletives in his wake.

Cozza demanded that the teen come back inside the courtroom and told him he was in trouble. The teen’s initial response was to say “Do I have to?” but he complied with the judge’s instruction. He told the judge that he’d been in court to see his brother, who had been arrested the day before. “I’m just a little bit irritated,” he said. “Some of the allegations were false.”

Cozza gave the teen a brief lecture on proper courtroom conduct and he was handcuffed by two Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies. The 17-year-old was booked into Spokane County Juvenile Detention, where he celebrated his 18th birthday on Saturday.

Here’s the source.

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Regular Juice readers know that you have a first amendment right to flip off a police officer. That doesn’t mean you won’t be arrested and thrown in jail. It just means that ultimately you will prevail. Any way, the same does NOT hold true for Judges, as this gent learned. As reported by (Springfield, Missouri):

David Hernandez, 31, was arrested Wednesday at about 3 p.m. while in the audience of a court proceeding. According to the judge’s docket sheet, Hernandez disrupted the court three times.

“Upon Mr. Hernandez’s departure from the courtroom, in direct view of Judge (Todd) Thornhill, (defendant) flails his arms and then lifts both arms in the air and extends the middle finger of each hand in utter disrespect and contempt of court,” the docket sheet reads.

Hernandez was asked if there was any reason he should not be held in contempt and produced none, the docket sheet says. The court then found Hernandez in contempt and ordered him to jail until August 23. [a 30-day sentence]

A police incident report indicates Hernandez was booked without incident.

To his credit, Mr. Hernandez learned from his mistake, unlike this gent, or this one, or this one. Here’s the source.

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After getting sentenced to 10 years for robbery, like Mr. Taylor, I’m sure you wouldn’t be in the best mood either. Still, you better be prepared to pay the price if you lay into the judge, as Mr. Taylor did. Here are excerpts from the decision by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division:

Defendant appeals from his conviction for second-degree robbery … his sentence on that charge, and the imposition of two consecutive six-month sentences for contempt …

Did someone say “contempt”?

When the court asked defendant if he understood his appeal rights, defendant responded by stating, “Yeah, I understand that you all railroaded the shit out of me. That’s what I understand.”


Although his attorney attempted to calm him down and the court attempted to resume asking him if he understood his right to appeal, defendant persisted in confrontational behavior, stating, “you’re all — so full of shit.” The court warned defendant that he would impose an additional six months for contempt of court. Defendant was defiant, stating, “Add six. What the fuck I care now.”

This reminds The Juice of a truly classic, early Juice post …

The court warned defendant again about imposing six months for contempt. Defendant replied, and repeated, “Fuck contempt of court.” Both his attorney and a court officer attempted to calm defendant down. The court said, “I’m going to give you one opportunity —” but defendant interrupted, “Give me — give me — don’t give me shit, mother fucker. Do what the fuck you’ve been doing to every black mother fucker that come in this courtroom.”

Defendant continued to interrupt the court, repeating, “Fuck you” three times, calling the judge a “crazy ass mother fucker,” telling him, “Eat shit and bark at the moon, sorry son of a bitch.” When the judge said he was going to place on the record his reasons for imposing an additional six month sentence, defendant interrupted again, stating “[i]s that all you’re going to put on it, the six months?” He continued to interrupt and taunt the court, saying, “Keep adding six months then” and “well shut the fuck up and do . . . what you’re going to do.”


The court proceeded to set forth the acts it deemed contumacious as the basis for imposing an additional sentence of six months. Defendant continued to interrupt. The court noted further that this exchange occurred in a courtroom filled with fifty people.

After the court ordered defendant to be remanded, defendant replied, “Fuck you, bitch” and then stated “Suck my ass, you cracker bitch.” The court had him returned to counsel table and imposed an additional six months for contempt, to be served consecutive to the prior sentences. After remanding defendant once again, the court noted that defendant “held up his left hand with the middle finger extended in a gesture[.]”

So how do you think the appellate court ruled? Affirmed. The case is STATE v. TAYLOR, No. A-3326-09T2, Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. (August 24, 2011). You can read the opinion on Leagle here.

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Sometimes folks close a door a little loudly by accident. But when you slam a door, you’re saying something. When Marbelis Dorado left Judge Chet A. Thorpe’s Florida courtroom, she let the door do the talking. And Judge Chet didn’t like what he heard. As reported in The St. Petersburg Times:

… the judge had modified her probation as she had asked, but he also read a letter from her probation officer stating that said she regularly defies authority.

Hmm. “Defies authority.”

[She] … punctuated her courtroom exit with a loud thud.

Bad move.

“Go get her,” Tharpe told the bailiff, who returned with the woman. “Take her into custody.”

“Oh, please!” she told him. “I’m sorry!”

“Hook her up,” Tharpe responded.

Clearly hooking someone up has a different meaning in Judge Tharpe’s courtroom than almost everywhere else.

So she sat with other defendants, shackled at the ankles and wrists, weeping into her hands.

More than half an hour later, Tharpe found her guilty of criminal contempt, ordered her to anger management and told her to have a nice day.

Not surprisingly …

This time, she made a more quiet exit.

Click here for the source.

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Should a judge be allowed to clearly flout the Constitution with impunity? The Juice certainly hopes not, because Mississippi Chancellor [a Judge in the Chancery Court] Talmadge Littlejohn deserves, at a minimum, to be reprimanded. Why? A lawyer in his court would not recite the Pledge of Allegiance. And when Judge Littlejohn tried to force him to recite it, attorney Danny Lampley held his ground.

If you think that a judge would know that you can’t force someone to say the Pledge, you would be wrong. Perhaps in his reading of the Constitution, Judge Littlejohn skipped the first amendment? So what happened to Mr. Lampley for asserting his constitutional right in a court of law? Per The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal:

At 10 a.m., Lampley was in jail garb. By 2:30 p.m., Littlejohn ordered his release and return to the Lee County Justice Center to continue their business.

4 1/2 hours in jail! Here are Mr. Lampley’s choice words for the Judge:

Lampley said he was worried the judge would send him back to jail.

Simply put, the attorney said he and the judge have a “different point of view” about things, like loyalty oaths and the pledge.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Lampley said, “I’m just not going to back off on his.

“I don’t have to say it because I’m an American,” he said about the 31-word pledge. “I hope he’s not too angry with me.”

“It’s a problem, but it’s for the judge and me to work out.”

Yeah, different “points of view.” One based on the law, one not. Don’t blame Mr. Lampley for not taking on the judge. The man has to represent clients in that courthouse, and before that judge, for years to come. But that doesn’t mean the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance should let this slide. What did Judge Littlejohn have to say about the incident?

After the hearing, Littlejohn’s assistant said the judge had no comment on the matter.

Perhaps the decisions get better as the day goes on… You can read more here.

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judge%20angry%20furious%20upset%20crazy%20bad%20pissed%20mad%20outraged.gif Certainly it’s no State v. Johnson, but the Buldoni case will have to do for today. As reported at, here’s what happened in a case involving Mr. Buldoni, before Judge Emery Toth:

After pleading not guilty, Buldoni, also known as Luis Martinez, tried to explain the offenses to Toth.

But Toth was having none of it …

Toth suggested that the reason Buldoni got arrested was for failing to appear in court in November 2007 for the summonses. But Buldoni told the judge he was wrong.

This is not usually something judges like to hear.

“All right. Well if you’d stop getting arrested, then you wouldn’t have any of these problems, right?” the judge said.


“Excuse me, your honor?” Buldoni replied.

“I don’t want to have a debate with you,” the judge said. “I don’t want to have an Oprah Winfrey conversation with you…See you around.”

(Are we clear?! Crystal, sir.)

As he was leaving the video-conference room, Buldoni made a noise, which Toth later described as “raspberries.”

“I don’t want to tell you what you really are, but I’m a street guy. So when I said, “See you later,’ hey, I didn’t really get offended when you gave me the old fist up in the air. That’s okay. I didn’t really care about that. But when you give me the raspberries when walking out and you give me some kind of disrespect, I’m telling you that’s contempt in the face of the court. You’re going to jail. You’ll stay there for another 30 days…you open your mouth, you give me any more attitude, I’m going to give you some more jail time.”

Okay, 30 days … um, hold on …

“Appreciate it,” Buldoni said.

“Okay, I’m giving you 40, 45 days,” Toth said.

The exchange grew even more heated. Buldoni made another remark that the transcript lists as indiscernible.

“Sixty days. Get out of here,” the judge said.

“No, give me 70,” Buldoni said.

“Seventy-five,” Toth said.

The quarrel continued until Buldoni got 180 days.

Did he serve all 180 days? Apparently so, according to Judge Toth. So why was this exchange reported? Because Judge Toth recently had a disciplinary case filed against him as a result of this case!