Guilty plea in court disrupted by defendant’s father

Published 8:20 am Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Court News
A routine court proceeding was interrupted on Monday when the father of a defendant attempting to enter a guilty plea caused a disturbance in the court room.
On Monday morning, the defendant was standing at the podium before Judge Keith Bowers discussing his desire to plead guilty to a violation of probation charge.
Off the side of the courtroom, a man began to approach the table where Assistant District Attorney Mark Hill and ADA Todd Hull were seated. Carter County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Doug Mahan stopped the man and told him he was not allowed to approach the table. Mahan told the man to have a seat and then spoke with Hill and advised him the man would like to speak with him. Hill said he could not speak with the man.
When Mahan relayed the message from Hill, the man was overheard saying “stupid sons of b******.”
At that time, Mahan ordered the man to exit the courtroom. The man stood up and began to argue but Mahan again directed him to leave the courtroom, this time joined by Hill who also told the man to leave.
Bowers stopped the court proceedings and directed court officers to return the man to the courtroom and have him sit off to the side. He then asked Mahan to approach the bench and explain what had happened in private.
After Bowers finished accepting the plea from the defendant at the podium and sentencing him, Bowers had the man brought up before the court.
“I have a pretty strict rule,”Bowers told the man. “If you cuss in this court you go to jail.”
Bowers told the man the officer had reported what he had said when he was told he could not speak with the assistant district attorney.
“What was I supposed to have said,” the man asked. Bowers replied the man had cussed toward court officials and the man denied the allegation.
Bowers then placed Mahan, Hill and the man under oath before the court. Both Mahan and Hill said after the man was informed he could not speak with the attorneys he said “stupid sons of b******.”
The man then admitted he had made the statement.
“I said it under my breath,” he said. “I meant no disrespect.”
Bowers replied “You meant no disrespect? Where I come from, those words usually lead to an assault.”
The man apologized to Bowers and said he was under a lot of stress because he had just been released from the hospital and his son was facing the violation of probation conviction.
“I just wanted them to give him a chance,” the man said. “I’ve seen other people walk up and talk to them and nothing was said.”
Bowers directed court officers to place the man in a holding area, saying the court would discuss the matter further at a later time.
A short time after the man was placed in the holding area, he told a court officer he was having chest pains. A medical staff member from the Carter County Detention Center was called to the courtroom to check the man and an ambulance was later called for.
When a court officer opened the door to the holding area and asked the man if he wanted an ambulance called for him he said “I want to call (District Attorney) Tony Clark or Judge (Lisa) Rice.”
Medical personnel from the Carter County Rescue Squad came to the courtroom and evaluated the man and he refused treatment and refused transport to a hospital for treatment.
After the medical personnel left, Bowers had the man brought back before the court. The man once again offered an apology to the court, but Bowers told him he needed to apologize to Hill and Mahan for his behavior.
The man told Bowers he had never before caused a disturbance in a courtroom.
“I understand you were here about your child and we get more emotional over our children than we do over ourselves,” Bowers said. “But, if you ever come back in here and cause any problems I will have no choice but to incarcerate you.”
Bowers then released the man to go on his way with a stern warning. Because the man was not found in contempt of court his name was not released.

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