Judge Silences Defendant With Duct Tape
Attention Canton, Ohio, criminal defendants: best keep your mouth shut when told, or you might find yourself on the wrong end of the duct tape. A robbery defendant in Judge Stephen Belden's courtroom found that out the hard way this week, when the judge cut short their argument by ordering the bailiff to duct-tape the defendant's mouth shut.
According to an account in the Canton Repository, Harry Brown was in court for a preliminary hearing on charges stemming from an alleged fight that Brown had with security officers at a Wal-Mart store, where he was allegedly shoplifting. This led to a robbery charge and a hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence to move forward with a prosecution.
Brown opened the hearing by starting an argument with the judge over whether his public defender was doing enough work on the case. Not surprisingly, this line of argument went nowhere, with Belden offering only the sure-loser alternative of allowing Brown to represent himself.
However, apparently convinced that he could win a shouting match with a judge, Brown kept on shouting, leading Judge Belden to tell his bailiff to go get the tape.
Eventually, seated and with his mouth taped up, Brown got to watch the prosecutor ask a police officer a series of questions. But, when offered an opportunity to have the tape removed and cross-examine the cop, Brown immediately began to abuse his tape-free status, accusing the judge of being disrespectful. End result: the judge quickly found probable cause for a trial, ordered Brown removed, and slapped on a contempt finding for good measure after Brown began cursing.
We have to believe that the public defender could have gotten a result at least that good.
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