When you’re in a court of law, it’s vital that you respect the presiding judge as well as the proceedings, whether you’re the accused, the prosecution, a jury member, or even just there to watch. Unfortunately, a man who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for robbery didn’t get the memo and ended up with his mouth taped shut after he repeatedly interrupted the judge.
Franklyn Williams was in the middle of his second burglary trial after he claimed that his lawyers hadn’t adequately explained the charges against him during his first trial in 2016. At that time, he pleaded guilty and was handed a lengthy sentence. By the time he appeared before Judge John J. Russo in 2018, Williams had a whole lot to say and would not be deterred from saying it.
Judge Russo repeatedly told Williams to “zip it,” but the defendant simply wouldn’t listen. His disruptive outbursts eventually led the judge to order bailiffs to physically tape Williams’ mouth closed with duct tape.
“If you spit on, attempt to bite or injure any of my deputies, you’re gonna have a bad day,” Judge Russo told Franklyn Williams. That message was received loud and clear, and Williams allowed officers to tape his mouth shut. However, he still wordlessly continued to protest.
Eventually, due to outrage over the incident, Judge Russo was removed from the case and replaced by Judge Cosgrove. “I suffered the ultimate humiliation. [I was treated like] a dog about to be put to sleep,” Williams said of the experience.
Judge Russo initially insisted he did nothing wrong, saying, “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 claimed he wasn’t trying “to silence Mr. Williams” and that he “gave him an opportunity to speak at the appropriate time.”
However, after further backlash, he eventually issued an apology and admitted that taping Franklyn Williams’ mouth shut “eroded the trust he had worked so diligently with others to build.”
Franklyn Williams was eventually sentenced to 33 years behind bars in 2019, Fox 8 reports.