Muncie Black Man Locked Up In Jail For Exercising Free Speech In Criticizing Muncie Judge Conduct

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Curtis Westbrook

Curtis Westbrook

An African-American man in Muncie, who apparently criticized a Muncie City Judge in letters and comments not made inside the courtroom has been locked up for ten days for contempt of court. According to The Muncie Star Press, Curtis Westbrook was jailed for contempt of court by Muncie City Court Judge Dianna Bennington.  According to a story in the Delaware County newspaper written by Reporter Douglas Walker, “Westbrook was sentenced to 10 days in jail Monday after the judge ruled he was “creating confusion that disturbed the business and proceedings of the court by distributing a letter to undermine the authority of the court and to provide legal advice to defendants in the courtroom.” That document reflects Westbrook on Monday left Bennington’s courtroom — the Muncie City Hall’s auditorium — “before he could be detained,” but was arrested when he returned for Tuesday’s court proceedings.” The Star Press story continued by reporting that “Westbrook in recent weeks has distributed a letter calling the judge — who was elected to the bench in 2011 — “One-Term Bennington” and referring to her “fiasco judgeship.””  It seems that a family member of Westbrook had been charged with domestic battery last January. Westbrook was concerned that the family member wasn’t receiving an opportunity for a jury trial, instead the case was to be decided by Judge Bennington.  Westbrook made his displeasure known, according to The Star Press story by distributing a letter to folks around town, including the newspaper. The Star Press article quotes Westbrook’s letter as charging that “the process by which City Court cases are transferred a “well-kept secret.” He also maintains Bennington and others have a financial motivation to “keep the City Court litigants in the dark concerning their right to a jury trial,” and suggests defendants could file misconduct complaints against the judge and attorneys involved in their prosecution.” The newspaper also reported that Westbrook said in his letter, ““Finally, remember this come election time!”” Click to Read the Full Muncie Star Press story on this apparent denial of free speech. Story on Black Man Jailed For Free Speech – The Muncie Star Press

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