TV judge Joe Brown compares himself to MLK following courthouse outburst and arrest

By Arturo Garcia
Monday, March 24, 2014 15:51 EDT
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Judge Joseph Brown [Facebook]
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Longtime television judge Joe Brown was arrested on Monday and put in jail after being held in contempt of court following a confrontation with a Juvenile Court judge in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Commercial Appeal reported that Brown was led out of court in handcuffs following an argument with Magistrate Harold Horne.

Brown, who is currently running as a Democratic Party candidate for Shelby County District Attorney, was reportedly in Horne’s courtroom to represent an unidentified client. After about 20 minutes, Brown reportedly approached Horne at the bench and questioned the court’s ability to incarcerate young people accused of missing child support payments.

“If it please the tribunal I will file a petition of habeas corpus and close this place down, like I did before,” Brown said in audio posted by WREG-TV, a reference to a common practice of his while he worked as a judge in Shelby County.

“You are very close to finding yourself in contempt,” Horne responded.

“Excuse me,” Brown retorted. “On what authority do you sit, by the way? As a former judge here, we have a rule in the 30th judicial district that says every single magistrate referee has to be unanimously approved by every Circuit, Chancery and Criminal Court judge. I don’t recall that your name’s ever been submitted, sir. This tribunal, on a general court’s authority, is insufficient to establish you.”

After Horne sentenced him to a day in jail on contempt of court charges, Brown threatened to file a legal challenge against his authority.

“You want to get into this, let’s get into it,” Brown told Horne. “This sorry operation needs to stop.”

“You may have a seat,” Horne responded, before Brown continued challenging him, saying Horne’s jurisdiction only allowed him to issue $10 fines for contempt charges. After agreeing to “have a seat,” however, Brown calls the court “a circus,” at which point Horne increased his sentence to five days. The court also rejected Brown’s bail request.

“He all but had that courtroom in a riot,” Magistrate Dan Michael said of Brown’s actions. Michael later upheld Horne’s sentence.

Following Brown’s arrest, his campaign Facebook page began comparing him to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

“This is not any different than when Martin Luther King was jailed repeatedly, while fighting for our rights,” one post read. The only difference is that he will not be a Martyr.”

In another post, Brown’s campaign urged followers to use a picture of King on their own profiles, saying, “In Memphis and Shelby County, you as a black man, white man, woman, or minority you do not have a voice, and your constitutional rights are up for sell. Do not vote these pompous officials back in.”

Brown, whose television program was canceled last year, announced last month that he would challenge Republican incumbent Amy Weirich, saying, “I did not seek this position, I got drafted. I’m answering the call.”

Listen to the exchange between Brown and Horne, as posted by WREG, below.

[Image via Judge Joe Brown campaign Facebook page]

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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