Judge Imposes 45 Days for Wearing a T-Shirt

March 23 2006, 11:46 PM

I understand that judges like to set a tone of respect in their courtroom. But should they be allowed to sentence someone to jail because they don't like the message on their t-shirt? Count me among those who think Stanley "Tookie" Williams should not have been executed. Having read all of the clemency pleadings, I believe he redeemed himself. I realize others disagree, but I don't understand how someone can say a t-shirt showing his picture with the words "redemption" and "should have been saved" under it is disrespectful or offensive.

[Outspoken activist Shareef ] Aleem wore a T-shirt to a March 1 court appearance that had a picture of executed Crips street gang co-founder Stanley "Tookie" Williams, with the words "Should have been saved" and "Redemption." Adams County District Court Judge Katherine Delgado asked Aleem to change his shirt at his hearing for allegedly assaulting a police officer at a University of Colorado Regents meeting last year. Aleem, who has criticized police and claimed unfair treatment of minorities, refused the judge's request, saying it violated his First Amendment rights to free speech. Delgado found Aleem in contempt of court, and on Wednesday sentenced him to 45 days in jail for wearing the shirt, which was replaced during the hearing with another that said "U.S History 101" and depicted lynchings.

Anyone who has sat through court proceedings in any District Court in the Denver metropolitan area knows defendants don't dress up for routine court appearances. Why pick on this guy? There was no jury pool to prejudice, no profanity on the shirt and nothing disrespectful in the message. If all there is to the story is what's in the News article, I hope Mr. Aleem appeals.

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