Criminal Justice

Verbal tussle with judge nets escalating days in jail for assault defendant (see the video)


An Ohio defendant facing misdemeanor charges of assault and domestic violence kept talking back—and getting her contempt sentence raised—after she realized a judge was banning her from her home.

Ebony Burks’ initial contempt sentence was 30 days, but Judge Gary Bennett of Elyria raised the sentence seven times as Burks continued to argue during a video arraignment on Aug. 14, the Chronicle-Telegram reports. Burks, 32, is accused of attacking her grandfather and fighting with another woman.

Burks’ contempt troubles began when she realized a no-contact order meant she could not return to the home where she lives with her grandfather, the story says.

“How you going to tell me I can’t go to my home?” Burks asked.

“I just did,” Bennett replied.

“Well, I bet I do,” Burks said.

That brought the initial 30 day sentence. Burks got 60 days when she held up her hand and walked away from the camera. Bennett ordered her back. Burks continued to talk back. Here are her words and the resulting jail sentences:

“So what?” (90 days)

“So?” (120 days)

“Okay, and?” (160, 180 days)

“What else you got to say?” (Bennett replies that he will have nothing more to say until they meet again in six months.)

Burks makes an off camera remark, gets a 200 day sentence, and then Bennett asks Burks if she has anything more to say. “F— you,” Burks replies, bringing the 300 day sentence.

Bennett told the newspaper it was the longest sentence he had ever imposed for contempt of court.

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