Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

““The real damage is done by those millions who want to ’survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.””     Sophie Scholl

August 12, 2009

Man Receives 6 Months in Jail…for Yawning?

by Stephen Littau

Just when you think the criminal justice system couldn’t be any wackier, a spectator inside a county courthouse was sentenced to 6 months in jail for yawning. No shit.

Williams, 33, attended his cousin’s July hearing at Will County Courthouse in Joliet. His cousin, Jason Mayfield, pled guilty to a felony drug charge. As the judge sentenced Mayfield to two years probation, Williams let out a yawn, an involuntary faux pas in such a formal setting.

Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak thought the yawn was criminal and sentenced Williams to six months in jail, the maximum penalty for contempt of court without a jury trial. Rozak’s order said that Williams “raised his hands while at the same time making a loud yawning sound,” causing a disrespectful interruption in court.

I guess it never occurred to me just how much power a judge can have and did not realize that the right of trial by jury as guaranteed by the 6th Amendment evaporates once an individual enters the courtroom. It also seems to me that Williams’ 8th Amendment protection from “cruel and unusual punishment” has been violated as being sentenced to 6 months in jail seem both cruel and unusual to me.

But what do I know? I read the Constitution’s plain language rather than more than 200 plus years of case law which have obscured the meaning of what should be a very simple concept.

TrackBack URI:
Read more posts from
• • •


  1. I don’t understand how a judge can do that.

    Comment by Joy Reed — August 12, 2009 @ 11:53 am
  2. They have been given that power. This judge seems to be one of the more extreme, but any time you enter a courtroom, you face the risk of going to jail. Contempt of court is a rather vague charge and judges are given very wide latitude in applying it. Any time I’ve been in a courtroom, as a participant or spectator, I have been uncomfortably aware of that fact.

    Comment by John222 — August 12, 2009 @ 12:35 pm
  3. And there’s no appeal?

    Comment by Akston — August 12, 2009 @ 2:14 pm
  4. You can appeal. But the appeal is decided by other judges who have reason to protect the prerogatives of their profession.

    And there is some need for keeping order in the courtroom. It’s just that this is out of all proportion.

    Way out of proportion.

    Really. The mind simply boggles.

    Comment by EscapedWestofTheBigMuddy — August 12, 2009 @ 5:04 pm
  5. Just when you thought things couldn’t get anymore ridiculous…

    Comment by Chrystal K. — August 13, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

Comments RSS

Subscribe without commenting

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by: WordPress • Template by: Eric • Banner #1, #3, #4 by Stephen Macklin • Banner #2 by Mark RaynerXML