Courtrooms are pretty dramatic places, where tensions often reach boiling point – especially when someone’s just been convicted. Regardless of whether they did it or not, it’s highly unlikely that they will gracefully accept their sentence. Take Charles Manson, for example. Even after a lifetime of incarceration, he still protested his innocence.
And while there is maybe a 0.oo1% chance that he didn’t order the brainwashed members of his so-called “family” to do anything, his case was unlikely to ever stand up in court given that he’d already killed a man and didn’t exactly behave in a way that would make anyone think he was sane. He did, after all, think of himself as a Christ-like figure.
During the courtroom circus that was Manson’s nine-month-long trial, the cult leader even tried to attack Judge Charles H. Older with a pencil. Amazingly, the judge didn’t even flinch, and the dramatic moment was drawn by the artist present.
As was his human right, Manson was eventually allowed to ask for parole, but even after decades behind bars, he still hadn’t cottoned onto the fact that he had to at least try and pretend to be sane in front of a judge.
The notorious convict didn’t even turn up to what was to be his last parole meeting in 2012, but his psychologist quoted verbatim what he’d said to them in his absence, revealing that Manson had said, “I am special. I am not like the average inmate. I have put five people in the grave. I’ve been in prison most of my life. I’m a very dangerous man.”
Another criminal who has caused quite a stir in court is 32-year-old Franklyn Williams.
As he was being sentenced for armed robbery, he simply refused to be quiet and after repeatedly ignoring the judge’s requests for silence, the judge took extreme action so that he could get his court appearance on July 31 over and done with.
This was Williams’ second trial for armed robbery.
The 32-year-old’s first trial was in 2016, and during it, he had pleaded guilty to armed robbery and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. However, he subsequently demanded a retrial after claiming that the judge hadn’t properly explained the crimes he was admitting to – a decision which, in Williams’ eyes, affected his sentence.
He had been told that he would be eligible for parole after seven years when, in reality, he had to serve his entire sentence.
Because he was unhappy with this ruling, Williams cut off his ankle tag and fled to Nebraska, but he was rearrested and promptly sent back to court for a retrial.
In the video below, he tries to defend his actions:
As was the case for Charles Manson, albeit on a less extreme level, Williams was not doing himself in favors in the courtroom and after he repeatedly refused to be quiet, Judge Russo said, “Mr. Williams, I’m the judge in the matter. Shut your mouth and I’ll tell you when you can talk.”
To which the convict replied, “But you’re not letting me tell you what’s going on. You’re trying to take my life, judge, and you’re not letting me tell you what’s going on. It’s not fair.”
After this, Williams was threatened by the judge who said, “If we have to, I will gag you in one second. I’m going to tape [your mouth shut], and I’ll unzip it when I want you to talk.”
Williams, however, completely ignored this threat, so Russo got the guards to carry it out.
“I want to make it real clear, if you spit on, attempt to bite, or injure any of my deputies, we’re going to have a bad day,” the judge warned as Williams was gagged.
It was at this point that Williams finally gave in and simply said, “It is what it is.”
While there is no doubt that Williams should have complied with the judge’s demands in the first place, Russo’s decision to have him gagged was met with a barrage of public criticism.
One viewer of the now viral clip on YouTube, Shelly Annehan, wrote, “I can’t find the law that says taping a plaintiffs [sic] mouth shut is ok… Instead, under the law, he should have been held in contempt and hauled downstairs in cuffs. Judges be reaching!”
“The attorney should have stopped his client from talking or had him escorted out. Come on!” remarked another YouTube user, Trust God.
Some people even suggested that Judge Russo was racist, and Sonnys Gaming remarked, “It would never happen to a White guy racism runs deep in White America just read the comments for proof [sic]”.
Others simply believed that it was inappropriate for the judge to take such extreme measures to get Williams to be quiet.
Skante Warrior wrote, “God is gonna judge him someday… taping/ordering a man’s mouth shut… smh.”
“Anyone especially a judge is held to higher standards than the public,” added freeyourmind88. “That is why they get paid so we’ll [sic]. Case should have been thrown out. This judge should be suspended without pay for 30 days. He should be [ashamed] of himself. And the bailiffs know better than to comply. They have a choice. Unacceptable.
In response to this criticism, Judge Russo has now spoken out about the incident and defended his actions.
“Everybody has the right to go on the record with my court reporter. But we can’t do it at the same time or yelling over each other,” he told vibe.com.
“My intent was never to silence Mr. Williams, I gave him an opportunity to speak at the appropriate time. More than not, he continued to speak over me and others in the courtroom.”
Many of Russo’s critics questioned whether or not gagging a person in court was legal, and the judge went onto reveal that he was within his rights to have Williams gagged and cited similar incidents as proof.
In 1970, during a court case known as “Illinois v Allen”, it was decided that the defendants didn’t have the right to be present at their own trails. For this case, the judges had permission to “bind and gag as a last resort, thereby keeping him present; (2) cite him for criminal or civil contempt; or (3) remove him from the courtroom while the trial continues, until he promises to conduct himself properly,” the Miami Herald reported.
However, this does contradict what Russo did, as he did not try and remove Williams from the court and the gag he enforced was far from being a “last resort”.
After the dramatic gagging, Williams was sentenced to 24 years behind bars.