An Ohio judge has faced backlash for enforcing an unsettling way to restrain a man in court.
Fox 8 reports Franklyn Williams was silenced Tuesday (July 31) when deputies placed red tape around his mouth. Judge John Russo ordered the officers to put the tape around the defendant’s mouth after they went back and forth about inconsistencies in the trial.
Williams was involved in the second trial regarding robbery charges. After he previously pleaded guilty to counts of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, theft, misuse of credit cards and having weapons under a disability, Williams claimed he misinformed about when he would be eligible for release.
The case was retried but filled with delays after Williams reportedly snipped his ankle bracelet and fled to Nebraska. Judge Russo sentenced him to 24 years in prison.
In the video below, the two go back and forth with Williams’ questioning factors in the case.“You’re trying to take my life away, judge, and you’re not letting me tell you what’s going on,” said Williams with Judge Russo threatening him with a gag order. “I’m going to tape it, and then I’ll unzip it when I want you to talk.”
Six officers surround Williams with one issuing a threat before putting the tape on his mouth. “It is what is,” Williams is heard saying.
Russo explained to reporters why he had no choice but to make the order.
“Everybody has the right to go on the record with my court reporter. But we can’t do it at the same time or yelling over each other,” he said. “My intent was never to silence Mr. Williams, I gave him an opportunity to speak at the appropriate time. More than not, he continued to speak over me and others in the courtroom.”
Russo claimed his actions were legal, with a few cases supporting the notion. The Miami Herald noted the 1970 case Illinois v. Allen, where it was ruled that defendants do not have the right to be present at their trials. Judges were allowed to “bind and gag him as a last resort, thereby keeping him present; (2) cite him for criminal or civil contempt; or (3) remove him from the courtroom, while the trial continues, until he promises to conduct himself properly,” if a defendant was unruly in the courtroom.
The court of public opinion disagreed with Russo’s decision, calling the incident unhuman.