An additional sentence imposed on a man for uttering a four-letter word in a courtroom was upheld on appeal earlier this week, although it was reduced from 12 to six months.
A defendant, unnamed by press, reacted to a sentencing by saying- as we all might in the same situation- “fuck y’all.” This did not sit well with the judge at sentencing:
The trial judge immediately found the defendant guilty of contempt for “uttering a profanity at me in my presence, in my sight, and in a calculated way.” He handed down a one-year prison sentence for contempt, on top of the other sentences he had imposed for the defendant’s underlying criminal offenses.
The decision was mostly supported by the DC Court of Appeals, where District Court Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson quoted an earlier opinion on disruption of court proceedings and profanity:
“Courtrooms, especially in criminal cases, are theaters of extreme emotions — stoked by . . . the tensions of striving lawyers, hostile cross examination, and the fearsome stakes. . . .By its tendency to undermine order, a party’s deliberate cursing of a judge in open court can . . .readily be viewed as obstructive.”
According to a legal blog, the unnamed man subject to the contempt sentence had repeatedly interrupted court proceedings before the judge slapped him with the contempt sentence.