August 10, 2009
Man jailed for yawning in court
An Illinois man received a six-month contempt of court jail sentence for letting out a yawn as the judge was sentencing his cousin.
Clifton Williams, 33, was at the fourth-floor courtroom at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet when he yawned audibly while Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak was sentencing his cousin to 2 years' probation on felony drug charges, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.
Williams, who was locked up July 23, was sentenced to six months in jail and must serve a minimum 21 days.
I was flabbergasted because I didn't realize a judge could do that, Williams' father, Clifton Williams Sr., said.
It seems to me like a yawn is an involuntary action.
Chuck Pelkie, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, quoted the prosecutor in the courtroom as saying
it was not a simple yawn -- it was a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings.
Rozak is well known for dolling out contempt of court charges. There are 30 judges serving in the 12th Judicial Court, but more than one-third of all contempt charges brought since 1999 originated with Rozak.