Former Television Judge Joe Brown Loses Appeal Over Contempt Finding

On Monday, March 23, former television personality Judge Joe Brown lost his appeal of the juvenile court ruling that found him in contempt of court and sentenced him to five days in jail last March.

Joe Brown was visiting Shelby County Juvenile Court last March when he was approached by a woman who wanted his advice. The former judge decided to represent the woman in the courtroom and became heated when the magistrate judge denied his request for dismissal and rescheduled the hearing. Brown became verbally abusive and questioned the court’s authority, calling it a circus. Magistrate Horne warned Brown he was close to being held in contempt, but Brown did not quell his insubordination. The magistrate initially sentenced Brown to one day in jail, but the former television personality continued to act out. It was not until after Brown had amassed five days sentencing in jail that the bailiffs successfully removed him from the courtroom.

On appeal, Brown argued that the magistrate didn’t have authority, the court room recording was manipulated, and that he was simply “respectfully and zealously” advocating for his client. The appellate court disagreed in the entirety. The court affirmed the magistrate’s decision and remanded it for further proceedings, holding Brown responsible for the costs of appeal. The Appellate Court credited the ruling below which found Brown engaged in willful misbehavior in front of the court, responding to threats of contempt with condescending behavior. Magistrate Horne indicated that the former television judge appeared to be addressing the “audience” of over 70 citizens in the courtroom and that Brown was there to simply disrupt the orderly progress of the hearings. Brown only served six hours of his five day sentence and may have to serve the remainder upon remand.

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