Does Disrespectful Behavior Towards a Judge Considered Obstruction of Justice ?
Does Disrespectful Behavior Towards a Judge by a Person Who Has Previously Appeared in Court as a Criminal Defendant Amount to Obstruction of Justice ?
In Commonwealth v. Mutzabaugh, 699 A.2d 1289, 1292 (Pa.Super. 1997) the trial judge was conducting a colloquy on appellant's request for early parole or work release from jail.
The appellant became angered during the colloquy and began to vociferously complain of the alleged injustice of his conviction.
As a result, the trial judge terminated the proceedings by stating that "we're done."
At that point the appellant got up from his chair and walked to the door. As he passed the trial judge he stated:
"You can go to hell. F--k you." Appellant was thereupon apprehended by a deputy sheriff as he attempted to exit the courtroom.
In concluding that the appellant demonstrated the requisite intent to obstruct justice our Court considered appellant's prior experience with the court system and the basic elemental deductive reasoning every human being is deemed to possess.
The Court said:
Appellant has appeared before the court as a criminal defendant on several prior occasions.
As such, he would be aware of the seriousness of court proceedings, the proper decorum to be observed during such proceedings and the proper respect to be accorded the trial judge.
Moreover, it is unreasonable to suggest that even a person appearing in court for the first time would not realize that such egregious conduct, as that demonstrated by appellant in this case, was not wrongful. Id. 699 A.2d at 1292.