Interesting decision from the Court of Appeals today. A defendant was so rude and obnoxious that the court ordered that he not be present during the trial, even if he wishes to testify. The Court of Appeals upholds this decision. Now, I'm a fairly pro-individual rights kind of person, and I think that as a rule, you should be allowed to attend your own trial. In this case, though, I think the trial court made the right decision. It is a long decision (65 pages) in part because of the numerous excerpts from the record. The COA, recognizing this is an extreme step, quotes so much from the record to show just exactly what one has to do to be ordered out of the courtroom for your own trial. Some of the things he says to the prosecutor are just beyond belief.
Part of the issue is that this defendant was charged with a sex assault. He was tried and convicted for that crime. This appeal stems from witness tampering charges from when he called her trying to get her to change her story on the sex assault charges. Before his sex assault trial, in a jury-out hearing, his lawyer on the previous case tells the court that her client wants to ask a question. That's always a bad sign, when the lawyer won't ask the question but instead lets the client ask it.
So, this guy looks at the judge and says, "I hear that some judge down here is fucking [the complaining witness] and writing her love poetry and shit. I can't get a fair trial if the judge is fucking her. So I got to ask, are you fucking [the complaining witness]?"*
The judge, who used to be the head of the criminal division of the Dept of Law and is a well-respected judge throughout the state, calmly leans forward and says, "Mr. Douglas, I don't write love poetry."
In the sex assault trial, a treating doctor testified that the complaining witness had marks that appeared to be cigarette burns near her ano-genital area. Upon hearing this testimony, the defendant yells out, "That's bullshit! She's got herpes!" **
If you are facing criminal charges and you are frustrated with your attorney, the prosecutor, the court, or whatever, I would strongly urge that you read this decision and realize that this is a great demonstration of how to NOT demonstrate your frustration. It is my opinion, and I could be wrong here, but its my opinion that outbursts and language such as the defendant used might not help create a lot of sympathy with either the court or the jury. Just a little suggestion.
*I heard this story from three different sources and that quote is pretty much verbatim from all three of them.
** Again, this story and this quote were confirmed by all three sources.