Texas community college freshman Kelsey Gloston did not want to fulfill jury duty. Called with 59 other prospective jurors to federal court in Houston, Gloston ignored the summons. When the court clerk called to ask where she was Gloston blamed her absence on a flat tire. When the clerk offered to drive her to court she said she was going to class instead. When the clerk called back to say the judge himself wanted her in court the next day to explain herself, Gloston “repond[ed] rudely and hung up.” The following day U.S. Marshals “rounded up” Gloston and brought her before Judge David Hittner “in ankle and wrist restraints . . . wearing flip flops, a tight white T-shirt, short-shorts and sporting green streaks in her hair.” The angry judge said “I’m going to hear exactly what your problem is with jury duty and what your problem is with how our country operates. . . . Nobody hangs up on our people.” Judge Hittner released Gloston on instructions that she appear with a lawyer the following day for a contempt hearing. Gloston appeared as ordered, apologized for her disrespect, and was let go with a lecture and a copy of the Constitution. At first Gloston’s father planned to sue–of course–and blamed the judge for overreacting, saying of his daughter “she’s 19, she’s ignorant, she’s a kid. They don’t take anything seriously.” (Way to have my back, Dad!) Now he’s happy to put it behind.
Gary A. Nickerson, the Massachusetts judge hearing the trial of Christopher M. McCowen, accused of murdering Christa Worthington in her Truro home in 2002, ordered a college student watching the trial to be handcuffed and confined in the courthouse lockup. The student offended the judge’s sense of courtroom decorum by wearing Bermuda shorts. Before slapping the student in irons the judge, through a court officer, informed the student that he was not dressed properly for court. Apparently the student did not take the message seriously because he remained bare-legged in the courtroom. Judge Nickerson called the student to a sidebar conference. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly noted dryly that “[a]pparently, the discussion did not go well for the student . . .” Judge Nickerson found him in contempt of court. The student was held for a few hours in the same cell as McCowen, the accused murderer. “What are you in for?” “I’m accused of first-degree murder. How about you?” “I’ve got bony knees.” Shorts Story, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, 6-Nov-06, p. 5, 35 MLW 581