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Don’t mess with the bull young man, you’ll get the horns.

vernon.jpgOk, I need to give a hearty shout-out to reader Richard Rebel for pointing out the following hilarious story (and to Legal Juice for posting it in the first place).

So back in 1990, a Maryland man, Mr. Johnson (not sure what his first name was), was convicted of malicious destruction of personal property. But luckily, Mr. Johnson received a 3-year suspended sentence and got probation - so if he behaved, all would be well in the world. But wouldn’t you know, in 1991 he got busted for burglary, which got him a 10-year vacation in the clink. And since this was also a probation violation, he eventually had a court hearing about whether those other three years would get tacked on to his current 10-year sentence. And during the hearing, the Judge decided to give him those additional three years.

Needless to say, Johnson was pissed, and the following long exchange took place:

THE COURT: Call the next case please.

PROSECUTOR: State calls Eugene Wright …

JOHNSON: — at the same time. Don’t make no motherfucking sense.

THE COURT: Bring him back. Take him back.

JOHNSON: No motherfucking sense.

THE COURT: Pull him back.

JOHNSON: Yo, man, stop yanking on my motherfucking arms. Motherfucking —

THE COURT: Sit him back over there in front of the table. [Uh-oh]

THE CLERK: Give me the file back. He might be under contempt of court.

THE COURT: Now, stand up there. Come back to that table there. Step on up now. What’s wrong with you?

JOHNSON: What the fuck you think wrong with me, man? Goddamn, I’m trying to tell you I ain’t have no motherfucking option in this shit, man.

THE COURT: All right.

JOHNSON: What the fuck? You think everybody just want to go sit in prison for the rest of their life because you ain’t got nothing better to do than to sit up there and crack jokes. This ain’t no motherfucking joke, man. This is about my goddamn life.

THE COURT: That cost you five months and twenty-nine days in addition to the three years I’ve just given you.[#1]

JOHNSON: Fuck this shit, man.

THE COURT: All right. That’s five months and twenty-nine more in addition to the five months and twenty-nine I’ve given you. [#2]

JOHNSON: Fuck you, bitch.

THE COURT: That’s five months and twenty-nine days. That’s three years. That’s five months and twenty-nine days. Now, wait a minute. That’s consecutive to the three years that you’re now doing. Each one of those. Separate and independent. [#3]

JOHNSON: If I had a gun, your motherfucking head would be splattered all over the back of the goddamn wall for –

THE COURT: And you’d better shoot straight when you try. When you get out, come on. Five months and twenty-nine more for that. That’s consecutive to the three others and consecutive to the one that you’re doing now. [#4]

JOHNSON: Whatever man. You’re tired of giving it out? Did you finish or what?

THE COURT: Well, we can see. That’s five months and twenty-nine more. [#5]

JOHNSON: Kiss my ass again.

THE COURT: Five months and twenty-nine more. [#6]

JOHNSON: Kiss my ass until you’re tired of giving me another.

THE COURT: That’s six of them.

JOHNSON: Kiss my ass again.

THE COURT: Seven. Five months and twenty-nine days. [#7]

JOHNSON: Fuck you. Kiss my ass again.

THE COURT: Five months and twenty-nine days. [#8]

JOHNSON: All right.

THE COURT: Consecutive.

THE CLERK: Silence.

JOHNSON: So you finished giving out time?

THE COURT: I guess. Until you cuss again.

JOHNSON: Suck my dick. [Very tricky, because “dick” isn’t a cuss word.]

THE COURT: Five months and twenty-nine days consecutive. [#9] [Damn!]

THE BAILIFF: Quiet in the Court.

JOHNSON: You finished?

THE COURT: I suppose.

JOHNSON: Well, what the fuck are you holding me for then?

THE COURT: Five months and twenty-nine more days. Consecutive. [#10]

JOHNSON: Get the fuck off me, man.

THE COURT: Call the next one.

Each one of those bracketed numbers is a different contempt charge thrown on Johnson. So he got 10 separate contempts, each for one day shy of six months, meaning that his total time in the clink would now be the 10 years for burglary, plus 3 more for the probation violation, plus almost 5 more for contempt (each contempt sentence was just shy of six months because the law says that folks aren’t entitled to a jury trial for contempt punishments of less than 6 months, so the judge was giving Johnson 5 months and 29 days to avoid sending Johnson to a jury).

Johnson appealed and in 1994 a Maryland appellate court overturned the contempt convictions, finding that the judge provoked Johnson, and ruling that the whole ordeal should only count as a single contempt.

Now I couldn’t help, while reading this transcript, but to think of a scene from the classic The Breakfast Club:

VERNON: You’re not fooling anyone, Bender. The next screw that falls out is going to be you.

BENDER: Eat my shorts.

VERNON: What was that?

BENDER: Eat. My. Shorts.

VERNON: You just bought yourself another Saturday.

BENDER: Ugh, I’m crushed.

VERNON: You just bought one more right there.

BENDER: Well, I’m free the Saturday after that. Beyond that, I’m gonna have to check my calendar.

VERNON: Good. Because it’s going to be filled. We’ll keep going. Want another one? Say the word. Just say the word. Instead of going to prison you’ll come here. Are you through?


VERNON: I’m doing society a favor.


VERNON: That’s another one right now. I’ve got you the rest of your natural born life if you don’t watch your step! You want another one?


VERNON: You got it! Right there, that’s another one pal.

CLAIRE: Cut it out!

VERNON: You through?

BENDER: Not even close, bud.

VERNON: Good. You got one more, right there.

BENDER: You really think I give a shit?

VERNON: Another. You through?

BENDER: How many is that?

BRIAN: That’s seven including when you asked Mr. Vernon here if Barry Manilow knew that he raided his closet.

VERNON: Now it’s eight. You stay out of this.

BRIAN: Excuse me, sir, it’s seven.

VERNON: Shut up, Peewee. You’re mine, Bender. For two months, I’ve gotcha.

BENDER: What can I say? I’m thrilled.

Eerily similar, right? Except that Bender only got hit eight times, while Johnson got ten. So a “good on you” to Johnson for stepping things up a notch.