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Judge Orders Spectator Jailed for Shouting ‘Love You’

Posted Jun 16, 2009 10:51 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Judge Alfred Nance is known for his emphasis on courtroom decorum—and his temper, according to critics who complained about him in 2000 to a judicial conduct commission.

Both traits appeared on display on Friday when Nance reportedly told one spectator she was dressed for the beach and ordered another jailed after she shouted “love you” to her brother. He later changed his mind about the jailing, however, after a public defender objected, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Nance, a Baltimore circuit judge, has been the subject of three judicial discipline investigations. One, based on the complaints made in 2000, resulted in a reprimand for demeaning women in court and in chambers and being "rude" and "hostile" to lawyers in a medical malpractice case, the Sun says.

A second complaint was dismissed and the details of a third were not publicly released beyond disclosure that Nance had been ordered to take corrective action, according to story. The third complaint had stemmed from allegations that Nance had jailed a lawyer who left his courtroom for six minutes.

The Baltimore Sun recounted Friday’s session in a story based on a review of a video of the proceedings. The problems began when spectator Tamika Clevenger stood in the back of the courtroom, blew a kiss to her handcuffed brother, and then began talking to another woman in her row.

"Ma'am, your talking is over," Nance said. Then he turned to the other woman, who was wearing a strapless top. "Young lady, step in the hall. The beach is three blocks down and to the right. It's not in this courtroom,” he reportedly said.

As Clevenger turned to leave with the woman she yelled “love you” to her brother. Nance ordered her to return and sentenced her to 10 days in jail, the story says. When she protested that she hadn’t done anything, Nance said told the woman she had yelled in his courtroom. "I love you, too. Ten days, Baltimore City Detention Center. Take her. Don't bring that stuff in my house. Period."

Nance revoked the sentence a half hour later, after a public defender in court for another case told him he had been too harsh, according to the story.

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