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Judge Rozak’s yawning injustice
Did an Illinois judge step over the line by jailing a courtroom spectator for six months for yawning?
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o matter how bored or tired you are, don’t yawn in Judge Daniel Rozak’s courtroom, said Matt Bartosik in NBC Chicago. That’s the hard lesson Clifton Williams, 33, learned after one such “involuntary faux pas” led the Will County, Ill., circuit judge to send him to jail for six months. Williams was only in court to see his cousin Jason Mayfield plead guilty to felony drug charges. And Mayfield, the felon? He got probation and walked free.

Six months in jail “seems way to harsh,” said Eric Zorn in the Chicago Tribune, but the loud yawn was clearly “some sort of inchoate statement of disrespect” for Judge Rozak. And Williams’ “patently false” excuse—that it was an involuntary yawn—is like the lame attempts at “subtle insolence” a child makes when he or she says, “I just shut the door, I didn’t slam it.” Parents, “are you with me on this”?

Williams’ dad isn't, said Blair Brettschneider in USA Today. He said he was “flabbergasted” by Judge Rozak’s jailing of his son. And surely his sentiment is shared by dozens of cellphone users—ringing cellphones are another contempt-of-court target for Rozak, who is responsible for a full third of the 30-judge circuit’s contempt charges since 1999.

Well, “residents of Joliet can rest easily now,” knowing Rozak is on the case, said Kim LaCapria in The Inquisitr. Thanks to their “sentence-happy” judge, Williams won’t be starting that new job he had lined up, which means he won’t be “contributing to society or anything harmful like that.” Take that, “shameless yawners.”

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