Skip to comments.Canton judge orders silence in the court — WITH DUCT TAPE
Posted on 09/01/2009 7:52:51 AM PDT by ResistorSister
CANTON Municipal Court Judge Stephen F. Belden had an unconventional tool for silencing an argumentative defendant last week duct tape.
(Click on the Audio Tab at left: Listen to Judge Belden's order to duct tape the defendant's mouth in court)- You will have to go to the link to hear this.
The unique confrontation played out in Municipal Court on Thursday and quickly became a topic of courthouse gossip. It was also recorded on the courtrooms audio and video systems.
Belden was holding a preliminary hearing to see if there was sufficient evidence for Harry Browns case to be reviewed by a county grand jury.
Charged with robbery and obstructing official business, Brown, 51, of 529 Clarendon Ave. NW, is accused of fighting with Wal-Mart security officers who said they were trying to keep him from shoplifting at the Tuscarawas Street W store Aug. 20.
At the start of the hearing, Brown told Belden that he wasnt happy with his public defender, who he claimed hadnt done enough work on the case.
Belden said he wasnt going to appoint a different attorney. If Brown didnt want the public defender, he could represent himself, although he would be a fool to do so, the judge said.
Harry Brown (left) and Municipal Court Judge Stephen F.
Belden. Judge Belden ordered Browns mouth to be tapped
shut with duct tape in court after the defendant argued
with him repeatedly after being ordered to be quiet
Brown and Belden went back and forth for about four minutes, at times talking over each other, until Belden told his bailiff, Jeffrey Smith, to get the duct tape.
Im gonna get some duct tape. If you keep interrupting me, Im gonna have Mr. Smith put it over your mouth, OK?
Brown said he would go back to the holding area for prisoners.
No, you cant go back there and sit. Youre staying right here, Belden said.
Brown kept talking.
All right, duct tape. Duct tape the defendant, Belden said.
A SECOND CHANCE
With Brown muzzled, Belden told the public defender to sit in the audience, then ran the hearing.
After the police officer answered the prosecutors questions, Belden told his bailiff to remove the tape and asked Brown if he had any questions for the witness.
Well put some more (tape) back on if you decide to, uh, go back to your former, uh, disrespectful ways, the judge said.
Im not being disrespectful, Your Honor, Brown said. I think youre being more disrespectful to me, as, you know ...
He never got to ask a question, as the argument restarted.
OK, thats it, thats it. Prelim is over. Youre bound over. I find probable cause. You can go back, down in the basement ..., Belden said.
I want to ask him some questions...
Yoooooouuuuuuu ... go ahead, take him away, Belden said.
On the way out the door, Brown uttered obscenities.
OK, you can get 30 more days on top of whatever you get, for contempt, Belden told him.
THE RIGHT CALL?
Court Administrator Michael Kochera said he doesnt know of any other time when duct tape was used to silence a defendant in Municipal Court.
When the judge orders any of the bailiffs to do something, we follow the orders, said Smith, the bailiff.
Brown wants to file a complaint with the Supreme Court of Ohio and says his rights were violated.
It was unethical. He didnt have to do that, Brown said Monday by phone from the Stark County Jail.
The duct tape covered his mouth, and when the bailiff peeled it off, it pulled out some of his mustache hairs, Brown said.
A spokesman for the Supreme Court of Ohio declined to comment on the issue.
The Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct says judges have to keep order in the courtroom. It also requires them to be patient, dignified and courteous.
Belden said he felt taping Browns mouth was the best way to restore order.
You have somebody whos disruptive, you have to make a decision on the spot how to handle it, he said.
It was the first time in 12 years on the bench that Belden has ordered a defendants mouth to be taped. He said he learned of the technique from an out-of-state judge while they were attending a training seminar.
Aside from taping defendants mouths, judges in Municipal Court can try to reason with them, postpone the hearing, place them behind a glass window next to the courtroom or put them in a holding area where they can listen to the hearing but cant participate, Belden said.
I hope to never have to do it again, he said of using duct tape. Its not something I get any enjoyment out of.
Duct Tape is Silver.
I have a commemorative roll of Presidential Duct Tape that I’d like to use on a certain jOker.
Somebody needs to contact AG Holder. I think this might fall under the “New” definition of Torture Law.
Duct Tape is Silver.
Look for the “Racist!” tag to fly in 5...4...3...2...1...
Well, at least he didn’t have underwear put on his head.
Don’t tape me, bro!
Eric Holder ain’t gonna like this.
I don’t know what occurred in that court room since I was Not there but it sure seems to me that the judge committed an act of judicial misconduct.
[quote]When the judge orders any of the bailiffs to do something, we follow the orders, said Smith, the bailiff.[/quote]
While I don’t know if placing duct tape on his mouth was truly merited, I am a little concerned about the bailiff’s response. It sounds very Third Reichish.
Good thing the judge didn’t order him to shoot the guy.
I don’t know that I’d normally recommend that...but it is effective as a last resort.
I’m still waiting to hear about some judge with a taste for old Cheech and Chong telling his bailiff to whack the defendant’s pee-pee.
Yeah, back in 1972 or 73 that Cheech and Chong bit was funny.
They are ahead of the curve!
Time will tell.