Sunday, May 09, 2010



Jail for using word "pussy"

Miaow?
"Meet Jennifer LaPenta. The Illinois woman, 19, was jailed Monday after a judge was offended by the t-shirt she wore to a friend's court hearing. LaPenta, wearing a black shirt with the message, "I Have The Pussy, So I Make The Rules," ran afoul of Judge Helen Rozenberg, a Circuit Court jurist who handles misdemeanor and traffic cases.

A miffed Rozenberg, 56, summoned LaPenta from the gallery, and cited her for contempt of court. The judge then immediately sentenced LaPenta to 48 hours in jail, and had her removed from the courtroom in handcuffs.

Source

Sounds like a stupid woman meets a bitchy judge. The speech was almost certainly entitled to 1st Amendment protection, though, so the judge could be in some trouble if the matter is taken any further.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Used in that sentence structure, the word "pussy" clearly did not mean cat. Also, there should be a little bit of decorum / respect when one enters a court room. I'm with the judge on this one.

Brian from Virginia said...

What I would like to know is, did the woman who wore the t-shirt in question think that was appropriate attire for court? Debate free speech all you want, but I have never appeared in court wearing only a t-shirt. In my humble opinion, if you are appearing in court, you want to look your best. And a t-shirt, plain or with some goofy statement, either way just doesn't cut it.

Bobby said...

Maybe she was poor, maybe she couldn't afford to look her best, it's not like she came to court dressed like a clown, she probably dressed the way she's always dresses. Besides, if Jennifer went to court as an spectator and not as a defendant, then how dare does the judge jail her?

Anonymous said...

We can debate whether the t-shirt was inappropriate. I think most people will think that it is. However, "inappropriate" is not "illegal."

If the judge did not like the woman's attire, then throw her out of the courtroom. Instead, the judge flexed her judicial muscles and threw the woman in jail.

The judge's order states that the woman was not in the court as a defendant, and was only sitting in the front row. She was not creating a disturbance to the running of the court (which is a criminal violation and punishable by jail time) or ignoring a order of the court (a civil violation.)

"Contempt of court" is one of those things that has always disturbed me and this case clearly indicates why. First, the woman was called up to the judge and interrogated. This was done without counsel. The woman was then convicted of an offense by the same person who had made the complaint. Clearly there is not only an appearance of impropriety, but an actual conflict of interest. In no other realm of law do we allow such actions as someone who makes a complaint to serve as the trier of fact as well as the person who determines a sentence.

The woman was wrong to wear such a thing to court. It is clearly not the type of apparel you want in a court room. Have her removed and get on with life.

The woman was wrong. The judge was as well.

Anonymous said...

Well said Anon 2:17.
So, some here obviously feel that anyone who doesn't dress as they do, is somehow wrong and out of line? Don't judge others by YOUR standards and values. It's bad enough to have bleeding-heart Bobby declaring her "poor".

There is no official dress code in a court room for spectators, although lawyers and court officers are "expected" to dress in an "appropriate" manner. That there was an obvious lack of common sense and good taste on the part of this shirt wearer, is irrelevant. If you went into a criminal court here in NYC, you might think it was a rap-music convention or a hangout for the homeless. And of course, nothing is ever said because it would be seen as "racially insensitive".

This "judge" displayed one of the things that most judges are hated for, an "I'm God" attitude.

Anonymous said...

Courtrooms usually have dress codes, and they're posted in numerous places. The courtroom is the last bastion of dictatorship in America, and judge has virtually absolute say in the room. The old adage "My house, My rules!" is truly appropriate here.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:17 said: "The woman was wrong. The judge was as well".

I agree.

But the woman was a 19 year old girl attending court in the public gallery to support a friend who was on some sort of misdemeanor or traffic case. Her attire was inappropriate, but I am prepared to bet that she did not realise it. She is hardly likely to have much experience of courts, apart from Judge Judy on TV (where just about anything goes, as far as I can tell).

The judge was a 56 year old Circuit Court Judge. It would have been OK to ask the girl to leave, but jailing her was outrageous. I think her action was despicable, and I hope she is in some sort of serious trouble for it.

Anonymous said...

Many things that aren't technically illegal can be classed as contempt of the court.
Wearing a shirt with a text that's an insult to the judge for example is just that.

And this text can be seen to be just that, a claim that she's above the law because she's a sexy bitch (whether she is or not a sexy bitch is irrelevant, the claim itself is not).

Wes said...

What is not indicated here is how she responded to the judge. If she said anything disrespectful to the judge when he questioned her about the shirt, she got what she deserved. If she was respectful the the judge, then the judge went way over the line.

Anonymous said...

What is not indicated here is how she responded to the judge.

The judge's complaint simply states that when asked why she was wearing the t-shirt, the woman gave "no excuse."

There is nothing in the complaint that says or indicates that the woman was disrespectful to the judge.

Bobby said...

"It's bad enough to have bleeding-heart Bobby declaring her "poor"."

---Great, so now I can't make observations.


"there was an obvious lack of common sense and good taste on the part of this shirt wearer, is irrelevant."

---See? That's your observation, yet do I beat you up because "good taste" is something subjective that different individuals define anyway they like? No.

Frankly, I think is a horrible thing to spend 48 hours in jail just because you wore an offensive t-shirt, I hope the victim sues, I hope she gets compensated and I hope the judge gets reprimanded. This is clearly an abuse of power.

Anonymous said...

She's smart enough to know the value of pussy but too dumb to dress herself for court. Very interesting. Stormewaters

Anonymous said...

---Great, so now I can't make observations.

Of course you are able to make observations. Those observations should be based on reality, and not some fantasy or fabrication in your mind.

So, do you have any evidence that this woman is poor?

---See? That's your observation, yet do I beat you up because "good taste" is something subjective that different individuals define anyway they like?

Try and notice the difference between an observation based on known facts and one that you make up.

Frankly, I think is a horrible thing to spend 48 hours in jail just because you wore an offensive t-shirt,

She didn't spend 48 hours in jail. Once again, you make stuff up. You always try and argue things that aren't factual.

Aspergers.life said...

Community service> Maybe. But not 2 days in jail!

Bobby said...

"So, do you have any evidence that this woman is poor?"

---I do not, I'm only making assumptions based on my beliefs about how the poor and the rich are.

"Try and notice the difference between an observation based on known facts and one that you make up."

---You failed to acknowledge the subjectivity of things like "good taste." In my family tattoos and body piercings are considered extremely bad taste, in other families they aren't. You judge me for calling someone poor, yet you have no problem imposing your views constantly.


"She didn't spend 48 hours in jail. Once again, you make stuff up. You always try and argue things that aren't factual."

---Let me quote: "The judge then immediately sentenced LaPenta to 48 hours in jail, and had her removed from the courtroom in handcuffs." So I'm not making stuff up, and I don't remember the link saying anything about her not spending the 48 hours in jail.

Once again, you're more interested in attacking me than in arguing about the story. The irony here is that for once we both agree that what the judge did was wrong.

Anonymous said...

Putting "pussy" aside for the time being.

How about the 3-kids who were thrown out of an AMERICAN school in California for wearing AMERICAN Flag T-Shirts to school on Cinco de Mayo?

WHEN,

The wet-back kids got a pass for wearing Mexican flag T's.

Political Correctness has warped some folks brains!

Anonymous said...

---I do not, I'm only making assumptions based on my beliefs about how the poor and the rich are.

In other words, your conclusion ans assumption is without merit or basis in fact.

---You failed to acknowledge the subjectivity of things like "good taste." In my family tattoos and body piercings are considered extremely bad taste, in other families they aren't.

Here we go again with another deflection from you. Stick to the subject of this woman's actions. These are actions that are known. A statement of opinion can be made on those actions. That is not the same thing as what you do which is make up something to try and justify your position.

Is she poor? No factual basis to make that assertion and therefore no basis to make an opinion on that justification.

Did she wear a tee-shirt? Yes. You then have factual basis to offer an opinion on her actions.

---Let me quote: "The judge then immediately sentenced LaPenta to 48 hours in jail, and had her removed from the courtroom in handcuffs." So I'm not making stuff up, and I don't remember the link saying anything about her not spending the 48 hours in jail.

Really? Read the article. Quote: LaPenta, pictured in the below mug shot, was released yesterday from the Lake County jail after spending the night in custody.

Once again, you made something up. There is a difference between sentencing and the time the woman served.

Once again, you're more interested in attacking me than in arguing about the story.

Once again, I am defending the truth while you make stuff up.

Bobby said...

"In other words, your conclusion ans assumption is without merit or basis in fact."

---By your standards, if I see a black man driving a Mercedes I'm not supposed to think that he owns that Mercedes, instead I'm supposed to think that he's either a chauffeur or drug dealer.


"Here we go again with another deflection from you. Stick to the subject of this woman's actions. These are actions that are known. A statement of opinion can be made on those actions. That is not the same thing as what you do which is make up something to try and justify your position."

---We both agree that these woman's actions are harmless. She sat on the gallery like everybody else, she was silent like everybody else, she was singled out unlike everybody else and sentenced for "bad taste" which is extremely subjective.


"Really? Read the article. Quote: LaPenta, pictured in the below mug shot, was released yesterday from the Lake County jail after spending the night in custody."

---I didn't read the entire article, I read what the blogger wrote in his original post. That doesn't mean I was making things up, i was only making assumptions based on the information given, I did not think I had to read the entire link.

"Once again, I am defending the truth while you make stuff up."

---No you're not, you're just looking for a fight as always. If you wanted to defend or attack the judge's actions, that's expected, instead you often seek an argument with me regardless of the issue.

Anonymous said...

What are legal recourses for a contempt charge? Can she appeal to a higher court? Do they mirandize you when they take you away for contempt? Are you afforded any rights to a lawyer? Can a judge be removed from the bench for an inappropriate contempt charge and detainment? Can you file a federal civil rights suit?

Anonymous said...

---By your standards, if I see a black man driving a Mercedes I'm not supposed to think that he owns that Mercedes, instead I'm supposed to think that he's either a chauffeur or drug dealer.

Geez, what a stupid comment. This just goes to show how much of a leftist you are. You are trying now to inject race into this conversation. If you want to think that a person owns a car, that is because there is evidence that the person owns the car. There is no evidence that this woman is poor. In fact, if you had bothered to actually read about the incident, you would find that there is more evidence that she is not poor.

All that doesn't matter to you. You are constantly making stuff up to fit your perceptions despite not having any factual basis for it.

---We both agree that these woman's actions are harmless.

No, we don't agree on that. The woman was wrong to wear that shirt into the court. Try reading what I said instead of projecting your feelings onto others.

That doesn't mean I was making things up, i was only making assumptions based on the information given, I did not think I had to read the entire link.

I see. So you were wrong, made a statement that was contrary to the facts, and now you say you weren't making stuff up?

If you wanted to defend or attack the judge's actions, that's expected, instead you often seek an argument with me regardless of the issue.

Actually, I made a comment that had nothing to do with you in this thread. Take a look at Anon 2:17. That is my quote.

I left your comment alone until you tried to defend the ridiculous assertion that the woman was poor.

And by the way, your assertion that the woman was poor means that you believe that people that are poor have no class, taste, or don't know what to wear into a courtroom.

Just more leftist babble and prejudice from you.

Anonymous said...

"Her attire was inappropriate, but I am prepared to bet that she did not realise it."

By pretty much any standards, the word "pussy" on a shirt as she did is inappropriate just about everywhere.

Just because one has the right to do something doesn't make it right to do.

Stan B said...

The Judge declared the shirt OBSCENE. Obscenity in Open Court is the legal justification for the contempt finding. "Message shirts" are an expression of ideas or attitudes, as much as shouting out the same message, and that is the Judge's point.

The judge was offended by the obscenity, and wanted to make it clear that such nonsense will not be tolerated in her court - ever.

If appealed, this will go nowhere. While the Courts may be defenders of free speech, the COURTROOM is not a public forum for the airing of non-case related material.

Poor girl. Perhaps next time she'll think about what she wears to a courtroom.

Anonymous said...

If appealed, this will go nowhere.

I am not sure about that. The First Amendment Center has a post about the case and a citation that seems on point:
http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/commentary.aspx?id=22923

Quote: A similar situation occurred more than 30 years ago in another Illinois courtroom involving a then-19-year-old Sue Watts, who wore a T-shirt that read “Bitch, Bitch” in 5-inch letters. The Stephenson County court judge sentenced her to three days in jail for the vulgar shirt, saying: “You’re not very lady-like wearing that on the street, I don’t think. … It is a vulgarity. It borders on obscenity and it impinges on the dignity of the court.”

On appeal, the Illinois appeals court reversed the trial judge’s three-day contempt sentence, finding that the judge failed to act reasonably. In In Re Watts (1978), the court said “contempt requires some form of constructive or actual knowledge of what conduct is forbidden in order that people can avoid such conduct.”

The appeals court explained that Watts’ shirt was “not proper courtroom attire” but noted that she was “not given a reasonable opportunity to alter her behavior.”


According to the woman in the case we are discussing, she offered to change her shirt but the judge said it was too late and sentenced her to jail.

That would seem to fit the Illinois standard that in a "clothing case," the person must be given the chance to alter their behavior.

The woman was wrong to wear the shirt. I don't think any intelligent person disagrees with that statement. Yet because “contempt requires some form of constructive or actual knowledge of what conduct is forbidden in order that people can avoid such conduct,” I think the judge overstepped her bounds.

The contempt charge should be reversed and expunged from her record.

Once that happens, both parties - the woman and the judge - can say they learned something.

Anonymous said...

The bailiff should not have let her through the doors...

The judge is an obvious bitch for issuing a contempt of court without the woman creating some sort of disturbance and should have just had her removed.

stupid...

stinky said...

Poor? A responsible poor person would be working or looking for work, not tagging along to a mere traffic ticket procedure.

But, back on topic, I think Anon 2:17 summed it up already: inappropriate is not the same as illegal. Will this same judge also throw in jail every spectator who wears low-slung jeans? What about aggarvated comb-overs?

Then again, maybe she just felt that the t-shirt slogan applied only to her in her court, and that no one else should dare to use it.

Bobby said...

You ever noticed how when a Judge walks in everyone is supposed to stand, and then everyone sits after he sits? Noticed how they're called "your honor?" Noticed how they can jail someone without a trial, even a mere spectator?

It's funny how in our republic there are people acting like little dictators, Kings if you will. Judges are public servants, they are not worthy of such honors.

Anonymous said...

Judges are public servants, they are not worthy of such honors.

The respect shown is for the office and the position, not the person.