Incensed by a ruling in a child-custody case involving his granddaughter, Don Bandelman, 69, followed the judge into a public courthouse restroom and berated him as “a fool.” Judge Jack Robison then sent Bandelman to jail for 30 days for contempt of court. The Austin American-Statesman says there was no hearing, no notice of charges, and no lawyer present for Bandelman. The judge, facing inquiries from an appeals court, freed Bandelman after 4 days.
“I guess you have no freedom of speech with a judge,” Bandelman says. Says Prof. Bill Allison, director of the University of Texas Criminal Defense Clinic, “What ought to scare people is the ability to jail a citizen for 30 days when a judge just doesn’t like his behavior. The courts have kept, and continue to keep, this type of contempt very closely watched, very narrowly defined.”