Known for holding court on his eponymous television show, Judge Joe Brown is serving a five-day prison sentence related to a 2014 contempt of court case. Brown surrendered to police in Memphis TN on the evening of August 27.
Brown’s contempt charge stems from an incident that occurred in a Memphis courtroom on March 24, 2014, when he caused an outburst in the courtroom while representing a client. The 68-year-old Brown, whose show was cancelled in 2013, had been observing juvenile court proceedings at the Shelby County Criminal Court when he was approached by a woman who asked him to take up her child support case. Brown told ABC News then that he sought to help the woman and then appeared before the court on her behalf. He was campaigning to become Shelby County District Attorney.
The outspoken Brown interrupted Magistrate Judge Harold Horne several times, who initially sentenced Brown to one day in jail. Horne increased the sentence to five days after the verbal exchange with Brown continued. "Excuse me, on what authority do you sit, by the way?" Brown asked Horne, according to a court recording. "... This tribunal on a General Sessions Court's authority is insufficient to establish you. Therefore, I challenge your authority to hear it. ... This is a circus, sir."
"When I insisted that the woman's charges be dismissed, he started talking about, I'm not an attorney so-and-so," Brown said later. He added, "I said, 'You know it's wrong. ... You're better than this.'"
Brown was initially confined by the court, but was released on the same day with the expectation that he would serve later. Brown than appealed the sentence, claiming that the court’s audio recording of the proceedings was manipulated. However, the Shelby County Juvenile Court Clerk found that only a few seconds were edited to delete the name of Brown’s client, while claiming that the recording was not otherwise edited.
At the time of his initial arrest, Brown told ABC News, "I always used to be a hot shot about protecting people's rights." Brown added, "I was not happy to have my liberty detained even for 30 seconds. That's precious. It's not about the conditions of incarceration, it's about the loss of liberty."
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