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12 Unbelievable Courtroom Moments Caught on Tape

November 3, 2014

The courtroom is supposed to be a place where law and order reign supreme, and for the most part it is. However, there are occasions when it can turn scary, wild, and downright unpredictable. It’s not hard to understand why when you consider what’s at stake. Nevertheless, these 12 Unbelievable Courtroom Moments Caught on Tape will catch you off-guard.

And yes, a number of these are Not Safe For Work, so please keep that in mind if you’re around sensitive ears.

1. Penelope Soto

Soto appeared to be impaired by Xanax when she stood in front of her sentencing judge and received her punishment in February 2013. The young lady made things much worse with an unprofessional attitude and repeatedly laughing at the judge while he’s trying to speak to her. After she hears the full extent of her punishment, it ceases to be funny, and she responds with some creative sign language. Needless to say, things go from bad to worse, and yes, she did end up apologizing.

2. Racist Judge?

The courtroom is the last place you would expect to hear a judge sound off with a racially charged comment to a person of minority ethnicity, but that’s exactly what happened in an Essex County, New Jersey court in January 2010 as the judge suggests the Latino woman defending her client is an “illegal alien.” To the woman’s credit, she handled this tactfully yet assertively by removing herself from the courtroom and leaving the judge to think about what he’d said.

3. Monica Contreras

In August 2011, this video of Monica Contreras reporting a sexual assault at the hands of a court officer went viral. Law enforcement officials conducted an investigation and found there was sufficient evidence to fire Court Marshal Ron Fox. What makes the video especially disturbing isn’t the outburst that Contreras has, but the fact that she was arrested for nothing by the very man who was also her assailant. This goes on under the supervision of Judge Patricia Doninger, who is ignoring Contreras and playing with her young daughter instead. Doninger later lost her job as well.

4. Judge vs. Defender Fight It Out

In June 2014, Florida Judge John Murphy verbally sparred with assistant public defender Andrew Weinstock. However, it didn’t take long for the mouth-to-mouth courtroom outburst to turn in to mano-y-mano. While the actual fight happens off-screen, you can hear the altercation and from the sound of it, Murphy wins. 18th Judicial Court public defender Blaise Trettis had this to say: “The attorney said that immediately upon entering the hallway he was grabbed by the collar and began to be struck. There was no discussion, no talk, not even time for anything. Just as soon as they’re in the hallway, the attorney was grabbed.” Murphy later took a leave of absence and offered a public apology, but not specifically to Weinstock, reported Florida Today.

5. Tony Farmer

Tony Farmer was one of the hottest prospects in the nation for college and professional basketball. He had a bright future until he threw it all away by attacking his ex-girlfriend in front of a surveillance camera. When Farmer found out he would be losing his prime basketball years due to a three-year jail sentence handed down in August 2012, he didn’t take the news well. This certainly puts the recent Ray Rice “slap on the wrist” in perspective.

6. Ernie terTeltge

Ernie terTeltge (yes, that is how he spells it), a 52-year-old do-it-yourself attorney calling himself “the living-natural man,” was held in contempt of court in August 2013 for repeated outbursts all before the jury was even selected. “Why is a British-recognized esquire asking questions in an American courtroom?” he asked the judge. It gets pretty weird after that. The whole reason terTeltge was even in court was due to his fishing without a license.

7. Harvey Wince

Harvey Wince is a 22-year-old man convicted and serving time for the horrific torture of a child that resulted in burns over 18 percent of the 3-year-old boy’s body. When Wince discovered he would be sentenced “up to 65 years” in May 2013, he lost it along with friends and family who were present at the hearing. In the video, the family’s pastor helps restore order, but not before one of the biggest courtroom outbursts on this list.

8. Dexter Johnson

Houston teen Dexter Johnson was 19 when he committed rape and murder along with some other perpetrators. He was tried and convicted for capital murder in June 2007 and when the sentence was handed down, he showed the violent side for which he was on trial. Johnson’s family screamed and wailed when they heard his death sentence read. One passed out and an ambulance was called. For Johnson’s part, he began knocking over chairs until he was floored by an army of officers.

9. Lance Dyer

Lance Dyer was 16 when he led police on a car chase in May 2014. Rather than surrendering, he fled on foot and pointed a loaded gun at officers. He was sentenced to 11 years — a punishment that did not go over well with his sister. While Dyer’s attitude was largely quiet and accepting, his sister — unnamed in the report — goes on a profanity-laced tirade and resists officers who try to escort her from the premises. She was removed and not charged, but the judge did ban her from attending the rest of the proceedings.

10. Michael Gaines

Make sure the kids have earmuffs on for this NSFW courtroom outburst. A man identified in the video as Michael Gaines unleashes some of the worst language ever at his arresting police officer and the judge. While the bleep button gets a nice workout, you definitely get a sense of what the man is saying, and it’s not hard to fill in the gaps. That’s why it is best to keep this away from the kids. The incident occurred in July 2008, according to the Associated Press, and Gaines was sentenced to 13 years.

11. 11-Year-Old Juvenile and Would-Be Gunman

Due to the age of the 11-year-old perpetrator in this October 2013 video, the name has been withheld. But “withhold” is something the child hasn’t learned to do when it comes to emotional outbursts. After sentencing for bringing multiple guns and more than 400 rounds of ammunition to school with the intent of killing several classmates, he jerked away from officers and ran towards the exit door shouting expletives.

12. Michael Marin

Convicted arsonist Michael Marin had a tragic plan for avoiding sentence for his 2009 crime. In 2012, after the jury had returned a verdict, Marin reportedly took a “suicide pill” that was later found to be cyanide and waited for it to take effect. There is some deliberation as to when he swallowed said pill, but at the 7:43 mark of the video, you can see exactly when it took effect. Marin first leans forward in his chair. At this point, two ladies nearby realize something is wrong, and it gets scary after that. Marin was rushed from the courtroom on a stretcher but he was dead before medical personnel could help.

Here at The Reeves Law Group, we can’t say we’ve personally seen many similar incidents, but they certainly exist. Which of the courtroom outbursts did you believe was the most shocking, and what are some of the most unbelievable that you’ve witnessed? Share your thoughts in our comments section.

Posted by Casey Markee at 9:37 am - 21 comments
  • Amy

    These videos definitely range from the funny first one to to definitely disturbing. As it might be normal to not be exhilarated to hear a sentence longer than expected, these people just show their instability and immaturity trough their reactions, some act like injustice has been done to them but in reality they are there for a good reason, and it shows how they feel about what they had done and their selfishness. The videos are very good picks,keep up the good job.

    • The Reeves Law Group

      Amy, excellent point mentioning, “some act like injustice has been done to them but in reality they are there for a good reason.” Dale Carnegie discusses these discrepancies in perception related to criminal matters in his book How To Win Friends and Influence People.

      • 60US393

        Check out “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson for an argument that there very well might have been injustices done to the defendants.

    • Caroline

      Agreed. The last two were so sadly disturbing!

  • Annie Marie Peters

    Love this collection of courtroom moments! The Penelope Soto video is both funny and sad, all at the same time. I was glad to see the judge hand down her punishment. Not so funny anymore, was it, Penelope?! Haha. I hope you guys keep up these great posts. I’m a big fan of your blog, and I can’t wait to see more like this in the future!

    • The Reeves Law Group

      Thank you Annie. The video of Penelope is our personal favorite. Check back as we will be releasing a “featured” post like this once a month.

      • Ben wynkoop

        The Penelope video is definitely one of the best, but Ernie terTeltge is my favorite.

    • Jay King

      There is no doubt that she was clearly on something. One of the saddest things is that a lot of the people don’t seem to understand the severity of their circumstances. It was clear that she didn’t either.

  • Mikell101

    This is a really interesting list of courtroom moments, the one with Penelope really made me laugh and the one with Monica Contreras really upset me. For such a thing to happen to someone in this day and age is just unspeakable, i’m glad all those officers including the judge was fired.These are videos most people never get to see, keep them coming guys good work!

    • Ben wynkoop

      It’s not a good idea to disrespect a judge in his or her courtroom, especially a judge who is charged with your punishment.

  • Mikell101

    I should also mention that list useful to people who have never been to a courtroom before, you can learn what do and what not to do…just ask Penelope haha. Quite educational in terms of courtroom behavior. thanks guys

  • Casey Markee, MBA

    You guys continue to put together some quality resources. That was 15 minutes well wasted. Keep up the great work!

    • Guest


    • The Reeves Law Group

      Thank you Casey. We’re glad you enjoyed these videos.

  • 60US393

    These videos are more tragic than funny. Finding them humorous looks past the obvious inadequacies of our justice system, especially when it comes to the way we as a society treat the least among us.

    We focus our energy on the language that Michael Gaines employed, but we ignore his allegation that the deputy severely beat another prisoner. The truth of that allegation is somewhat inconsequential because American society has shown that it doesn’t care about the mistreatment of prisoners. And really, convicted of battery for spitting on a police officer? I’m sure this offense happened exactly as the police officers described. After all, there is nothing in current events to suggest that a police officer might change or fabricate a story to protect their own behavior.

    But I digress. There’s a young white man in my neighborhood who I believe needs a decade or so of jail time. Who should I call to report this battery-by-saliva offense?

    And only in dreams does the phrase “was convicted of” equate to “is guilty of.” Poor defendants, especially people of color, have little access to adequate representation and often end up being convicted of and serving time for crimes they did not commit. The inherent bias in the judicial system has devastating effects.

    This collection of videos made me sad. Very very sad.

    • Jay King

      I’m with you that these videos are not a laughing matter. They are a clear indication of how morally corrupt and broken the world we live in is.

      It’s truly sad when the misfortune of others becomes entertainment.

  • Oliver Haller

    Wow, this compilation takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and then derails, crashes, and burns at the end. Some truly unbelievable moments. It is like some of these came straight from Hollywood.

    • Jay King

      That’s a great description. It was truly a disturbing roller coaster ride that ended in the destruction of many lives: the victims, the victims family, the defendants, the defendants family and society as a whole.

  • Jay King

    WOW! This is quite a collection of courtroom mayhem!

    I can’t believe that racist judge. That was so uncalled for.

    Then the judge who stepped outside to go toe to toe with a public defender was insane!

    I have to be honest, what shocked me most was the ages of a lot of these people. It’s sad that such young people have made decisions that will alter their lives forever.

  • petercabrera

    Great collection. The video Penelope Soto is very funny. Thanks for sharing. I will check more as you add more. Thanks

  • Samin Joon

    These videos are hillarious and amazing. I wonder how the these were captured.. Keep it up

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