An Ohio judge ordered a defendant’s mouth taped shut during a courtroom hearing after he refused numerous requests to stop talking.
The incident took place last week, when a judge in Cleveland, Ohio, ordered Franklyn Williams, 32, to remain silent during his sentencing hearing.
“Mr. Williams,” Russo says on the video, “I’m the judge in the matter. Shut your mouth and I will tell you when you can talk. You got it?”
Russo proceeds to tell Williams that he would like to hear from the defendant’s attorneys first and then will give him a chance to speak, but Williams continues to talk.
“You are trying to take my life, and you are not letting me tell you what’s going on,” Williams says on the video.
After several interruptions, Russo then gives him a last warning.
“Listen to me, if we have to, I will gag you … you will get a chance to talk,” Russo says. “Just zip it, you will get a chance to talk, I’m going to give you a chance to talk.”
Williams continues to talk, and Russo orders for Williams’ mouth to be taped shut, according to the video.
Six sheriff’s deputies walk up to Williams and as Williams tries to get up, one of the officers is shown forcing him back down. Another officer proceeds to tape his mouth with red duct tape.
The video quickly caught the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which characterized the judge’s actions as humiliating to the defendant.
“We cannot regard this as normal. It is humiliating. It doesn’t just deprive this person of the opportunity to speak before his life is taken away, it steals his dignity. Everything about this is wrong,” the organization said in a tweet.
Williams was sentenced to prison for aggravated robbery, kidnapping and misuse of credit cards, according to the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Court’s online records.