It’s a given that some judges in the American legal system are more severe than others. But Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak-—from Will County, Illinois—-may be the only federal judge who has sentenced a man to prison because of a yawn.
That’s right. In August of 2009, Clifton Williams was attending the hearing of his cousin in a Joliet courtroom. His cousin pled guilty to a felony drug charge, and when Judge Rozak delivered a sentence of two years probation, Mr. Williams let loose the incriminating yawn.
Judge Rozak noticed, later describing the incident by saying that Williams "raised his hands while at the same time making a loud yawning sound." The judge decided that this was a disrespectful interruption of the court, and sentenced Williams to six months in jail-—the maximum penalty for contempt of court without a jury trial.
This isn’t the first time that Judge Rozak has flexed his judicial muscles. A Chicago Tribune investigation revealed that Rozak has charged several court spectators with contempt when their cell phones rang in the middle of a session. In fact, with 30 judges operating in his Judicial Circuit, Judge Rozak has brought more than a third of all the contempt ...
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