Support Local Journalism. Donate to Cleveland Scene.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Cuyahoga County Judge Defends Decision to Order Defendant's Mouth Taped Shut In Court

Posted By on Thu, Aug 2, 2018 at 3:25 PM

click to enlarge SCREENSHOT: FOX 8
  • Screenshot: Fox 8

Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo drew some national attention this week thanks to the picture above. That's a defendant named Franklyn Williams with his mouth taped shut, which was done so at the order of Judge Russo.

Williams, 32, was accused of three armed robberies in Richmond Heights and Euclid. Throughout his sentencing hearing, Williams would not stop talking. Russo warned him more than a dozen times over a course of about a half hour, according to Fox 8's video footage. In order to combat the chatty defendant, Russo ordered to have his mouth taped shut by six deputies.

After red tape was applied across his face, Williams continued to attempt to speak, and the judge instructed more pieces of tape to be put over his mouth in order for the proceedings to continue.

Fed up with his continued pleading, Judge Russo angrily stated, "Mr. Williams, I'm the judge of the matter, shut your mouth, and I'll tell you when you can talk!"

"You tryna take my life, and you not letting me tell you what's going on," Williams clapped back in rebuttal.

After Russo ordered the tape to be placed on his mouth, a deputy can be heard saying, "If you spit on, attempt to bite or injure any of my deputies, you're going to have a bad day."

"Just put the tape on me man and get it over with," Williams said.

As Williams was in contempt of court, Russo was well within his legal rights to order Williams to be gagged in the courtroom.

Judge Russo defended the decision to Fox 8. “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. My intent was never to silence Mr. Williams,” said Judge Russo.

Williams was later sentenced to 24 years in prison on counts of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, theft, misuse of credit cards and having weapons under a disability.

Tags: , , , , , ,

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation