When will people learn not to screw around in Judge Belvin Perry’s courtroom? Thursday, Matt Bartlett, lucky enough to get a ticket to that day’s proceedings in the Casey Anthony trial, evidently got ticked off at prosecutor Jeff Ashton and raised his middle finger, an action that did not go unnoticed, or unpunished, by Judge Perry. Hauled up before the courtroom, Bartlett, on live TV, was forced to explain to Judge Perry what raising his middle finger meant.
It reminded me of the time I was in sixth grade and I told my sister in second grade that her teacher was nuts because she told them that when the leaves fell off the trees, it would snow. The nuns evidently colluded, and I was summoned to the second grade classroom and made to stand in front of the class while the nun taught until I remembered what I had said to my sister, and realized the error of my ways.
Judge Perry gave Bartlett a royal dressing down and informed him that the State of Florida had spent a “great deal of money” on this trial and his actions could have, basically, caused a mistrial. Perry read him the sign that is posted on the courtroom door, specifically prohibiting spectators from reacting by expression or gesture or audible responses to anything that occurs in the courtroom and asked him how far he’d gone in school.
Judge Perry asked him, “Sir, do you care to present any evidence of excuse or mitigating circumstances that you would like this court take into consideration prior to the imposition of sentence.” Unbelievably, Bartlett, evidently having spent way too time watching the Anthony trial, replied, “Would you repeat the question, sir?” Judge Perry convicted him of direct criminal contempt, and sentenced him to six days in the Orange County jail, fined him $400 fine, plus $223 court costs, payable in installments.
Bartlett, a server at a TFI Fridays in Millennia, Fla., evidently makes very good tips because when the judge asked him how long it would take him to get the money to pay court costs, Bartlett replied that he could pay it “right now.” After his national exposure, you just know his co-workers dropped a few trays and were rolling on the floor. He probably won’t have to call out for his, ahem, vacation, but will most likely become a folk hero, albeit, perhaps an unemployed one. Watch the entire episode here.
This is the second spectator that was sent to jail for interrupted the proceedings. Judge Perry held Elizabeth Ann Rogers in contempt of court, and her to two days in the Pinellas County Jail for yelling “She killed somebody anyway,” during jury selection. Perry told Rogers, who takes mood-altering medication, that if not for her mental and emotional disability, she would have gotten 179 days.