Saturday, November 8, 2003

You're out of order; go directly to jail

Mason judge says woman was disruptive

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - Naomi Gadberry had a question. It cost her a night in a jail.

"They made me wash down with lice soap," the 49-year-old grandmother of five said. "I'm not a criminal."

Gadberry doesn't understand why she spent Wednesday night in jail for raising her hand and trying to ask a question in Mason Municipal Court. But Judge George Parker said it was a matter of keeping order in court and respect for the judicial process.

"Any disruption of a court proceeding, especially by someone who is not a participant, cannot be tolerated by any court and have that court still maintain order," he wrote in an e-mail to the Enquirer. Gadberry was in court supporting her 21-year-old daughter, Brandy Keesler, who was there on a probation violation. While Parker was talking, Gadberry raised her hand. She wanted to know if Keesler's punishment would prevent her from moving out of their home.

She thought it would be all right based on an earlier conversation with Keesler's probation officer, Angela Hayes. But Hayes said she only told Keesler she could ask the judge questions.

Gadberry started to say something. Parker said: "Don't raise your hand. ... Don't try to interrupt me."

Parker ordered her to leave the courtroom, warning he would send her to jail for contempt of court.

As she left, Gadberry said she mumbled, "I can't believe this," but did not think anyone could hear her. She was wrong.

"He screamed at me," she said. "It was degrading. It just humiliated me."

Parker said he could not discuss the specifics of a case. His court order says Gadberry showed "general disrespect and disobedience" with "verbal statements and hand gestures."

"All court proceedings in our country are generally open to the public," Parker wrote in the e-mail. "However, this right does not permit spectators to become participants."


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