Update: Although bail was denied earlier in the day, Judge Joe Brown was released from custody on his own recognizance this evening; it is as yet undetermined whether he will have to serve five days (or a portion thereof) behind bars at some future date.
Judge Joe Brown this afternoon was thrown in jail for five days for contempt of court.
The former TV judge reportedly disrespected a Shelby County, Tenn., Juvenile Court judge and found himself taken into custody today in Memphis.
Before he went on TV, Brown was a Shelby County Criminal Court judge.
Brown was in the court to represent a client in a child support case when things went sideways.
According to Chief Magistrate Dan Michael, “Brown… arrived at the courthouse and began shaking hands and asking people for votes. He then sat in a courtroom for 20 minutes before approaching the bench and complaining about delays.”
At that point, things reportedly got out of hand. “Court workers told Brown they had no record of the case. Brown reportedly lost control and became verbally abusive. One person said there was a near riot in the courtroom.” Apparently court officers had to remove him from the courtroom, which to some degree evokes images of Al Pacino’s final scene in the cult film And Justice for All.
Brown is seeking the Democrat nomination for Shelby County District Attorney and if he wins, will face incumbent Republican Amy Weirich in the general election.,
Was this just a publicity stunt for for the election? Weirich’s campaign chair claimed that “Just think of all those poor kids who had child support hearings today who now have to wait because Joe Brown did what he does best — pulls a circus stunt in order to get on TV. Maybe that’s how they do it in fake Hollywood courtrooms, but this is real life with real people who depend on the integrity of the justice system.”
CBS canceled Judge Joe Brown’s TV show after 15 years apparently owing to a salary dispute in contract negotiations and declining ratings. Originally from Los Angeles, Brown was a sitting judge in Memphis when he was discovered by the producers behind Judge Judy.
Last August, the judge — or someone who closely resembled him and who appeared to have consumed a few adult beverages — was filmed in a Hollywood hotel lobby providing freewheeling commentary on a variety of subjects.
The audio of the Judge Joe Brown Memphis courtroom incident is embedded below: