An Ohio judge ordered deputies to tape a defendant’s mouth shut after numerous interruptions, according to WQAD News 8.
The incident occurred during a sentencing hearing in a Cleveland courtroom on July 31. Judge John Russo was presiding.
Franklyn Williams, 32, has been convicted for three armed robberies.
Judge Russo repeatedly asked Williams to quiet down. Williams continued to talk, complaining about his reputation and arguing with the judge.
“Mr. Williams,” said the judge, according to the Centre Daily Times, “I’m the judge in this matter. Shut your mouth and I will tell you when you can talk. You got it?”
In a later exchange, the judge said, “Does the comment, ‘quit talking,’ do you understand that?”
“You’re trying to take my life away, judge, and you’re not letting me tell you what’s going on,” said Williams.
The two continued to argue, and the judge threatened to gag Williams. Williams continued to talk.
“I’m going to tape it, and then I’ll unzip it when I want you to talk,” said Judge Russo.
Six sheriff’s deputies surrounded Williams and one applied red tape to his mouth. When Williams continued to speak through the tape, the judge ordered the deputies to apply another piece of tape.
Judge Russo sentenced Williams to 24 years in prison.
Williams was convicted of aggravated robbery, theft, misuse of credit cards, and kidnapping last December. This is his second trial for these charges.
During the first trial he was sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. Williams was granted an appeal because we was misinformed about when he would be eligible for release.
Williams’ trial last December was complicated when he cut off his ankle bracelet and fled to Nebraska. According to News Channel 3, Williams claimed that during that time he was hit on the head and lost his memory.
During the trial, prosecutors played recordings of phone calls that showed Williams had not lost his memory.
“Everybody has the right to go on the record with my court reporter. But we can’t do it at the same time or yellowing over each other,” Judge Russo told WQAD News 8. “My intent was never to silence Mr. Williams.”
Although it is unusual, this is not the first time a judge has used tape to quiet a defendant. In 2009 an Idaho judge taped a defendant’s mouth shut with duct tape, according to NBC News.
The Supreme Court ruled in a 1970 case, Illinois v. Allen, that defendants do not have a right to speak at a trial. The court stated that judges could “bind and gag him as a last resort, thereby keeping him present,” according to the Centre Daily Times.