Man Jailed for Yawning in Courtroom


What seemed to be normal courtroom proceedings in Joliet, Illinois quickly turned bizarre when a spectator was jailed for yawning.

Clifton Williams was in no way the defendant that day in the courtroom, he was simply a witness to his cousin’s sentencing on drug charges. As Judge Daniel Rozak was delivering Williams’ cousin a two-year probation sentence, Williams yawned. According to the chicago Tribune, his yawn landing him in jail for six months on contempt charges.

The sentence left Willams’ father, Clifton Williams Sr., “flabbergasted” because “it seems to me like a yawn is an involuntary action,” he said. Williams received the maximum sentence for contempt charges without a jury trial.

The court, however, disagrees with the notion that Williams was simply yawning. While Rozak declined to comment on the case, a state attorney’s office spokesman, Chuck Perkie, said Williams did not let out a “simple” yawn. “It was a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings,” he said.

According to the Tribune, Rozack in known for his stringent commandment of proper court room decorum, as he is the judge who hands out more contempt-of-court charges at the highest rate of any judge in the county. Rozack has filed contempt charges against people for swearing, to not silencing their cell phones while inside the courtroom.

Rozack will, however, grant leniency to those who apologize.

The newspaper reported Williams will have to serve at least 21 days and has been behind bars since July 23. In a letter to his family Williams said, “I really can’t believe I’m in jail.”