1The US judge who jailed a man for yawning in court
In 2009, a no-nonsense judge jailed a man for six months for yawning loudly in his courtroom and locked up another after his mobile phone rang during a hearing.
Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak sentenced Clifton Williams to six months jail for yawning loudly when the judge sentenced his cousin to two years probation. The cousin walked out but Clifton didn't, and he had to spend three weeks behind bars. The prosecutor in the case said Clifton's yawn wasn't routine and was a "loud and boisterous" attempt to disrupt the courtroom. But a Tribune review of contempt of court charges over the past decade shows Rozak jails people on contempt charges more frequently than any other judge in his county. Rozak was responsible for more than a third of all contempt charges laid by 30 judges in the 12th Judicial Circuit over the past 10 years. Those jailed were typically spectators whose cell phones rang or who screamed or shouted profanities during sentencing.
2The judge who ducted tape to keep noisy defendant's mouth shut
Also in 2009, a Judge got fed up with repeated interruptions from a robbery suspect so he ordered a deputy to put duct tape over the defendant's mouth to shut him up. Municipal Court Judge Stephen Belden says the taping was the best way to restore order at a hearing for 51-year-old Harry Brown of Canton after the defendant argued with despite being ordered to be quiet. Brown complained that his court-appointed attorney wasn't prepared and angered the judge, in Canton, Ohio, US, with his interruptions. After a warning, the judge told the bailiff to tape Brown's mouth shut. When the tape was removed, the defendant said the judge wasn't being respectful. The judge ended the hearing and sent the case to a grand jury.
3The judge who ordered a man suing his parents for allowance to move out and find a job
The parents of a 25-year old man in Spain told him to either look for a job or they would stop paying him $588 in monthly allowance. Then they followed through on their threat. So the young man sued them in court. The judge dismissed his complaint and ordered him to move out of their home and find a job. The judge said the man was studying law, albeit at a slow rate, and would probably not complete the degree for several years, but he thought he was still capable of finding some kind of work.
The situation at the home had seriously deteriorated with the parents claiming their son had physically and verbally assaulted them. The man's mother works in a restaurant while his father works for a garbage collection firm. In Spain it is not unusual for offsprings to remain living with their parents until well into their 30s, a trend strengthened by a tough labor market where the youth unemployment rate is 40.5%, the highest in the European Union.
4The judge who passed a sentence over the phone because the defendant was late to court
A driver stuck in traffic on his way to court was sentenced by a judge - over his mobile phone. The judge didn't want to incur more costs by adjourning the case. Aftab Ahmed, 41, called his lawyer as the case started and explained he was going to be late. Judge Caroline Ludlow decided to continue because she had a full diary and had to sit in a county court later in the day. She had already ruled out a prison sentence on Ahmed, who admitted a charge relating to his bankruptcy. First, Judge Ludlow told Ahmed's lawyer, Kevin McCarthy, to call him and check he was not breaking the law by using his mobile while driving. After hearing mitigation from Mr McCarthy, the judge rang Ahmed again and sentenced him to 140 hours of community service with £750 costs. Ahmed, of Bury St Edmunds, was stuck in stationary traffic for two hours on the A14 in Suffolk before police got vehicles to turn round. The clerk of Ipswich Crown Court, Rachel Bonner said: "The judge didn't want to incur more costs by adjourning the case."
5The judge who jailed own worker for typing too slowly
In a bold strike for the forces of justice, a judge in Florida has jailed his own court stenographer for working too slowly. Circuit Judge Charles Greene sent Ann Margaret Smith to prison for contempt of court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after she failed to finish typing a transcript needed for an appeal hearing for a convicted rapist.
To be fair, Greene did point out that Smith had failed to finish the transcript for several months now, and that she had been given a final deadline– which she missed. She then also failed to write up the transcript in time for her appearance on contempt of court charges.
Smith was eventually released from jail, after she told judge Greene that she couldn't do the work in prison because she was so worried about her three children at home. The judge then relented, and allowed her out of jail – but immediately put her under house arrest until she completes the work. Smith currently has around 400 pages of the 1,500 page transcript to go.
6The judge who used her twin sister to impersonate her on court so she could be double-booked
An unusual case in Italy rested on an allegation of double trouble: identical twin sisters were prosecuted for a long-running scam in which one allegedly filled in for the other at work. Gabriela Odisio, a lawyer and part-time judge from Magenta, allegedly used her sister Patrizia to impersonate her when she was double-booked, allowing her to draw fees for being in two places at once. When Patrizia appeared in court as Gabriela, wearing her robe, the impersonation was perfect. They are absolutely identical and are said to know everything about each other's lives so were allegedly able to fool everyone around them for years. The quality of Patrizia's advocacy was evidently never questioned.
Their ruse was only discovered after they were overheard discussing their plans by a client.
7The judge who tried himself, convicted himself and then released himself for good behavior
In 1874, Francis Evans Cornish, while acting as a magistrate in Winnipeg, Canada, had to try himself on a charge of being drunk in public. He convicted himself and fined himself five dollars with costs. But then he stated for the record: “Francis Evans Cornish, taking into consideration past good behavior, your fine is remitted”.
8The judge who got fired for consulting his imaginary mystical dwarves during sessions
A judge has lost his job in the Philippines, on the grounds that he regularly consulted with imaginary mystical dwarves who would join him in 'healing' sessions. Judge Florentino Floro, from Manila, was originally removed from his post, after it emerged that he believed himself to be psychic, and that he would begin his court session with readings from the Book of Revelation. In appealing that decision, Judge Floro mounted a staunch defense of the existence of his three dwarf friends - who were named Armand, Luis and Angel - telling the court in a letter that they had made a covenant together.
'From obscurity, my name and the three mystic dwarves became immortal,' he added. In addition to the mystical dwarves, Judge Floro also reportedly believed that he was able to foresee the future, that he could inflict pain on others, and that he was the angel of death. He would change his judicial robes from blue to black every Friday to recharge his psychic powers. The court found that he was unable to carry out his duties due to 'mental unfitness', adding that this could 'erode the public's acceptance of the judiciary as the rational guardian of the law.' Armand, Luis and Angel were unavailable for comment.
9The judge who got fired for jailing all of the 46 people present at the court
A judge in the US was removed from the bench for jailing 46 people after none of them would admit to having a cell phone that began ringing during his court session. Judge Robert Restaino, of Niagara Falls, New York, 'snapped' and 'engaged in what can only be described as two hours of inexplicable madness' during the 2005 session.
Restaino, who became a full-time judge in 2002, was hearing domestic violence cases when a phone rang. 'Everyone is going to jail,' the judge said.'Every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now. If anybody believes I'm kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going.' When no one came forward, the judge ordered the group into custody and they were taken by police to the city jail, where they were searched and packed into crowded cells. Fourteen people who could not post bail were shackled and bused to the Niagara County Jail, a 30-minute drive away.
Later in the afternoon, after being told reporters were calling, the judge ordered the defendants released. The judge told the state panel he was under stress in his personal life.
10The judge who sued the city for $1m after slip-up in court
A New York judge is suing the city for $1 million (£500,000) after slipping on a freshly-mopped floor in his own court. Supreme Court Justice Jack Battaglia is even targeting the courthouse cleaning lady who wielded the mop, according to legal papers.
Judge Battaglia, who broke a knee in the accident, accuses the city of "negligently using a mop bucket and wringer" and "negligently using a mop and soapy water" to create a "dangerous and hazardous traplike condition".