Franklyn Williams, the Ohio man whose courtroom outbursts resulted in a Judge John Russo ordering his mouth to be literally taped shut, has another court appearance on Monday. Williams has a hearing to go over sentencing issues, after Judge Russo ordered him to serve 24 years in prison for aggravated robbery, kidnapping, theft, misuse of credit cards, and having weapons under a disability. Watch the hearing in the player above, courtesy of Cleveland’s Fox8.
Williams’ case has had plenty go awry. The trial first started in 2017, but then the defendant cut off an ankle bracelet he was wearing and fled the state, going to Omaha, Nebraska. This wasn’t even his first trial in the case. He previously faced charges and eventually pleaded guilty, but he managed to get the plea thrown out. He had been sentenced to 14 years, but successfully argued that he was not properly informed about when he would be eligible to get out of prison.
At his July 31 sentencing hearing, Williams would just not stop talking. Even after Judge Russo warned him to keep quiet more than a dozen times, Williams kept going, even interrupting his own lawyer. That resulted in Judge Russo telling a court officer to place tape over Williams’ mouth.
Judge Russo defended the decision, saying that he wanted to maintain order in the courtroom, and that it’s legal for a a deputy to gag a defendant who is in contempt of court.
“Everybody has the right to go on the record with my court reporter,” the judge said. “But we can’t do it at the same time or yelling over each other. My intent was never to silence Mr. Williams.”
[Image via Fox8 screengrab]