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Judge Orders Profanity-Uttering Defendant Gagged

March 30, 1995

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) _ A judge who ordered a defendant gagged for using profanity in the courtroom said he would do it again to preserve court dignity.

``This is not the first time it has happened, and it will not be the last time it happened,″ said Municipal Judge Michael S. Conese, who has been on the bench for six years. ``The court has to be concerned about people in attendance. I make no apologies.″

Jerome Givens, 23, said Wednesday in a story in The Cincinnati Enquirer that he was removed from the courtroom during a sentencing hearing last month, handcuffed and shackled, then an Ace bandage was wrapped around part of his head to cover his mouth.

``I felt like I was treated like a dog, like an animal,″ he said from jail.

He was later sentenced to 18 months for criminal mischief, drug abuse, driving without a license, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He also was sentenced for contempt of court relating to his behavior at the hearing.

Geoffrey Stern, disciplinary counsel of the Ohio Supreme Court, said he was unaware of any complaint that involved physical gagging. Two provisions in the state’s code of conduct for judges could apply, Stern said.

``One requires a judge to maintain proper order and decorum in the proceeding before him,″ Stern said. ``The other requires a judge to be patient, dignified and to accord everyone a right to be heard.″

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