WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

WHO MAKES THE RULES?




In the Illinois equivalent of our County Court, Judge Helen Rozenberg, issued an order of contempt of court and threw 19 year old Jennifer LaPenta in jail for 48 hours for wearing in court what the Judge thought was a T-Shirt with offensive and obscene language detailed above.

We think the Judge over-reacted. How about you?


22 comments:

Anonymous said...

truth is an absolute defense

Anonymous said...

Rumpole,

I agree that it was a bit of an overreaction, but not by much. You and I wear suits to court because we respect the sanctity of the institution. The system may not be perfect and may not even be fair, but we respect the process, if not always the people who administer it.

Now we are trained and educated professionals and are expected to act accordingly. However, defendants, family members, and civilian witnesses should show their respect for the justice system as well by presenting themselves in a dignified fashion. Or at least as dignified as they can be, financial limitations notwithstanding.

Nevertheless, the way defendants, defendants' family members, and civilian witnesses dress at the REGJB is disgusting. Saggy jeans with exposed underwear, wife-beaters, gangster flags hanging out of back pockets, dead homeboy t-shirts, pajama pants, crop-tops 6 sizes too small on a 300 pound woman. Come on...

The level of disrespect shown by civilians is an affront to justice. It's a symptom of a bigger problem that simply says, "I don't care."

I got a ticket when I was 16 for rolling through a stop sign. You better believe that when I went to traffic court, my father made me wear a jacket and a tie. I addressed the hearing officer with solemn "yes sirs," and "no sirs" and conducted myself humbly before the court. This was a traffic ticket but I felt the seriousness of the situation. I felt a healthy dose of intimidation by the process. And as a 16 year old driver I quickly corrected my bad habits.

We see defendants charged with serious felonies, straggling into court like they just rolled out of bed, mumbling to the judge with that tired discontent like the judicial process is nothing but a huge inconvenience and the reason they had to get out of bed at 8 o' clock.

It's this pervasive mentality that extends beyond the walls of our justice building. It strikes at the very heart of crime in our community. And if the judges can allow somebody to come before them looking like they do, then what does that say about our system? It's assembly-line justice. The judges who do nothing are telling these defendants, "look...you don't care how you look, and I frankly don't care enough to call you out on it. Now just take the damned plea and let's move on."

The judge in Illinois went a little far by putting the person in jail. I think a little verbal assault by the judge on the young punk would have made him think twice about wearing something so tasteless into a court of law. But I can't say I blame the judge.

Anonymous said...

was she appointed counsel before being questioned at this impromptu contempt hearing?

Anonymous said...

Where's the ACLU when you need them??

Anonymous said...

Problem No. 1, as Judge Alfred "Fred" Nesbitt (and don't you dare call him Alfred) would say, the kind of pussy is not specified in the shirt or the order.

Problem No. 2, the order says that defendant was "displaying the contents therein" but nowhere is alleged that the defendant was either holding a cat or raising her skiert.

Problem No. 3, this is a matter of free speech where the T-shirt was not obstructing or hindering the adminsitration of justice, however, the judge's reaction to it was.

Problem No. 4, this judge doesn't understand the psychology of defendants. The worst punishment for this girl, would have been for the judge to ignore the t-shirt and act like if she had never noticed it.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the controversy.

Isn't truth an absolute defense?

To everything?

That gal in Broweird who wrote the letter to Gelin at JAA blog, complaining, doesn't have one of these.

The shirt, I mean.

Signed,
Anonymous
"For the Injured"

Anonymous said...

Absolutely NOT. People don't respect the court, the system, other people, etc. I say good for that judge. Bet she won't do that again. When I was a PD, I would make my clients turn stupid shit like that inside out, pull up their pants, take off their hats, whatever was called for, BEFORE they went before the judges. Shame on the defense attorney in that case (if there was one).

Anonymous said...

Isn't truth a defense?

Anonymous said...

Is it a persian cat?

Anonymous said...

You got it wrong.

The person in the picture has no women's parts.

Shame on you Mr. Rumpy.

Anonymous said...

what if it said, I have the dick and balls so I make the rules? One things for sure, it wouldn't be sexy.

Anonymous said...

The Dade County Bar presents their "Lunch and Learn" seminar featuring Mark Eiglarsh, Esq. presenting: "Winning the Case In Jury Selection," on Wednesday May 12th, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in courtroom 6-8 of the Richard E Gerstein Justice Building. Attendees are invited to bring their own lunch. Also, they will receive 1 CLE credit. For more info, contact Judge Beth Bloom at 305.548.5400.

Anonymous said...

First Amendment?

Like if I wore a shirt that says: Rule for my client or you can blow me? There are not enough ACLU lawyers in town to keep me out of jail + spending a lot of time explaining to the Board of Governors.

Why should my client not apply the same simple rules? If I spotted my client with that shirt - home they go, while I tell the Judge some story about ememrgency dental work until 10:30.

Anonymous said...

I always tell my clients how to dress and, more than once, it's made a difference in the outcome.

thereaganwing said...

The Judge, Judge Helen Rozenberg, Illinois Circuit Court, has a right to tell her victim, here, not to wear the shirt, and to eject her if she is unwilling to cover it. But her action in jailing the vulgar idiot is a direct assault on America, the Constitution and the rule of law. The woman had a right to be charged with a crime, an attorney and a trial before any sentencing. This "judge" is a buffoon, playing to an audience that doesn't care about the rule of law. Worse, she is an enemy of the very ideals upon which the nation was founded.
Judge Helen Rozenberg needs to spend five years in prison for this offence against the American Judicial System and the Constitution. No, that's not overreacting.

Anonymous said...

phenomenal shirt, not appropriate for court. Not worth the jail time, should have asked her to turn it inside out, admonished her, then make her come back to address her case. end of story. BTW, where can I get one of those, I only have the knickers version.

Anonymous said...

According to the order of contempt, it looks like she was not a defendant in that court.

Anonymous said...

Can't see the shirt (picture not opening on my browser), but if you find this an interesting, you should read "Fuck: Word Taboo and Protecting Our First Amendment Liberties" by Christopher M. Fairman (a law prof at Ohio State University).

My recollection is that the book tackles this subject head on and actually discussed an incident where a guy wore a t-shirt to court with a "fuck" slogan on it. The judge sent the guy to jail, but the appellate court reversed the trial judge on first amendment grounds.

Anonymous said...

1. Since when is Mark Eighlarsh an expert on anyting?
2. I had a client once arrested for jerking off near kids (L & L). The hat he was wearing said, "Sex instructor, first lesson free."

Anonymous said...

who is mark englirsh?

Gerry said...

The woman was just sitting in the front row, waiting for a friend who had court busyness.

Teh judge needs to have her meds adjusted up or down imo.

Toy Story said...

Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).

On April 26, 1968, Paul Robert Cohen, 19, was arrested for wearing a jacket bearing the words "Fuck the Draft" inside the Los Angeles Courthouse. Inside the court room he had the jacket folded over his arm, only after exiting the room he put the jacket on and was then arrested.

5-4, close decision. The dissent wanted to classify it was "conduct" not deserving First Amendment protection.