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Judge Orders Defendant’s Mouth Taped Shut During Sentencing Hearing

An Ohio judge is facing criticism after a video of him ordering officers to tape a defendant’s mouth shut during a sentencing hearing on Monday.

Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo demanded Franklyn Williams’ mouth be shut with a strip of bright red duct tape after the talkative man refused to stop interrupting his own lawyers and kept talking over the judge, local station FOX 8 reported.

Franklyn Williams

Franklyn Williams has his mouth taped shut after repeatedly interrupting his lawyers and the judge. (FOX 8 / video screenshot)

Video of the incident shows Russo issue several stern warnings, but Williams continues to try to be heard.

“At this point I am going to hear from your lawyers, and that means zip it,” the judge says to Williams.

“If we have to, I’ll gag you in one second,” Russo adds sharply. “Zip it until I give you a chance to talk!”

Williams continued to plead his case, however, prompting one of several deputies standing around him to place a piece of red tape over his mouth. The defendant kept talking even after the deputy gagged him, after which Russo instructed officers to place another strip of tape over his mouth.

After the 30-minute ordeal, Russo sentenced Williams to 24 years in prison, according to the station. Williams was convicted in December on charges of aggravated robbery, theft, kidnapping and misuse of credit cards, among other things.

His trial, which started last year was delayed after she cut off his ankle monitor and fled to Nebraska.

Critics blasted Judge Russo for his harsh treatment of the defendant.

“We cannot regard this as normal,” ACLU of Ohio staff attorney Elizabeth Bonham said in a statement. “It is humiliating. It doesn’t just deprive this person of the opportunity to speak before his life is taken away, it steals his dignity. Everything about this is wrong.

“You will not silence us,” one woman wrote on Twitter. “Franklyn Williams, despite the crimes he committed, did not deserve to have his mouth taped shut during a court hearing. This tactic was used to silence, shame, and degrade him.”

“Outrageous,” wrote another. “Franklyn Williams was shackled and silenced by a judge who refused to listen to his pleas. This is not justice, this is an assault on the rights of a Black man in court.”

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