Trials & Litigation

Upset at 29-Year Term, Man Drops F-Bomb, Gets Contempt Time, Too, Which Fed'l Appeals Court Upholds


Apparently unhappy about being sentenced to a 26-year prison term, followed by another three years due to his violation of probation in a prior drug case, a defendant dropped the F-bomb.

“F— y’all,” he stated, having several times previously interrupted the Washington, D.C. Superior Court judge during his sentencing, recounts an appellate court opinion (PDF) this week on the sealed case.

The unidentified judge then held him in criminal contempt on the spot for obstruction and sentenced him to another 12 months, to run consecutively, for a total term of 30 years.

Appealing, the unidentified defendant argued that his language didn’t sufficiently interfere with the court’s operation to qualify as obstruction. And, since he was sentenced to a year, he also said this contempt sentence exceeded the judge’s powers and sought a jury trial.

His conduct, which the sentencing judge described as “committ[ing] contempt of court by uttering a profanity at me in my presence, in my sight, and in a calculated way,” was obstruction, held the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in its Dec. 28 opinion.

And, although the federal appeals court agreed that the district judge didn’t have the power to sentence the defendant to a year of contempt time without a jury trial, it resolved that issue by reducing the contempt sentence to six months, reasoning that the judge intended to give him the maximum permitted term.

Hat tip: Blog of Legal Times.

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