Cleveland judge orders inmate's mouth taped shut in courtroom

Franklyn Williams

Image Franklyn Williams was gagged to stop him interrupting

OH judge John Russo ordered deputies to shut the mouth of defendant Franklyn Williams after the convicted robber refused to stay quiet. A jury had convicted him on charges that also included kidnapping, theft, and misuse of credit cards in December, and he was returned to Cleveland to be sentenced.

However, during the hearing, Williams reportedly would not stop talking, ignoring over a dozen warnings from the judge over a period of 30 minutes. When Williams continued to speak, the judge instructed deputies to put another piece of tape over his mouth.

The judge then ordered officers to shut Williams' mouth with tape.

"But you're not letting me tell you what's going on", Williams says. In the first trial, he pleaded guilty and received a 14-year prison sentence.

During his re-trial, the 32-year-old cut his ankle bracelet and disappeared.

It didn't get any better for Williams.

"At this point, I'm going to hear from your lawyers, and that means zip it", said Russo.

"Mr Williams, I'm the judge in the matter".

Judge Russo gave Williams another warning, saying: 'If we have to, I will gag you in one second.

"The comment "quit talking" do you understand that?"

Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo drew some national attention this week thanks to the picture above. "But we can't do it at the same time or yelling over each other", he said.

In the 1970 case IL v. Allen, the justices unanimously decided that defendants do not have an absolute right to even be present at their trial, let alone speak at it. "I gave him an opportunity to speak when it was appropriate but more than not he continued to speak over me". "That's what I was trying to tell them", Williams said. As Williams was in contempt of court, Russo was well within his legal rights to order Williams to be gagged in the courtroom.

Here though, there were no attempts to remove Williams from the court and instead a gag was enforced.

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