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.