Ohio judge John Russo ordered deputies to shut the mouth of defendant Franklyn Williams after the convicted robber refused to stay quiet.
Video shows the judge losing his patience with the talkative convict in a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Williams complained about authorities removing his possessions from his cell, and just meeting his attorney “the other day,” but Russo said this was brought up at the wrong time.
“Mr. Williams, I’m the judge in the matter,” said Russo. “Shut your mouth and I will tell you when you can talk. You got it?”
Williams kept talking, even as his attorney stood to speak to the court.
“At this point, I’m going to hear from your lawyers, and that means zip it,” said Russo.
“But you’re not letting me tell you what’s going on,” said Williams. He complained that the judge wasn’t letting him tell his side of the court. The court was treating him unfairly, he said. So and so forth. Russo threatened to gag him, and promised him he’d get his chance to talk.
“Zip it until I give you a chance to talk,” the judge said. “You’ll get a chance to talk. I am going to give you a chance to talk.”
Yes, Williams kept talking. Deputies ended up wrapping red duct tape around his mouth.
“It is what it is,” he said through the tape.
The American Civil Liberties Union lambasted the decision to tape Williams’ mouth.
“We cannot regard this as normal,” said a statement by ACLU of Ohio staff attorney Elizabeth Bonham. “It is humiliating. It doesn’t just deprive this person of the opportunity to speak before his life is taken away, it steals his dignity. Everything about this is wrong.”
The sentence ended up being 24 years behind bars. Williams was convicted last December in an armed robbery case. Authorities said he cut his ankle bracelet after proceedings began. He turned up in Nebraska, and alleged he was hit over the head and lost memory. To argue this was B.S., prosecutors used his phone calls with relatives, and presented information to show he used his phone for researching how to beat a criminal case, according to Fox 8.
Let’s be clear here, however. Shady allegations aside, it was previously determined that the legal system did treat Williams unfairly. This was actually his second conviction in the case. He pleaded guilty the first time around, and was sentenced to 14 year behind bars, but won an appeal after a court determined he received inaccurate information about his eligibility for release.
Note: Added a statement from the ACLU of Ohio.
[Screengrab via Fox 8]