Judges often have to deal with hard cases, including some who literally have nothing to lose in disrupting a courtroom. Most judges will have such defendants removed, but Floyd County Superior Court Judge Bryant Durham in Rome, Georgia appeared to be intent on trying to out crazy the craziest guy in the room. In this case, the guy was Denver Allen and he unleashed a tirade at Durham who proceeded to join him in trashing talking. This led ultimately to Judge Durham daring Allen to masturbate in his courtroom. It should also lead to Durham’s discipline and likely removal for conduct that violates the basic tenets of judicial ethics.
The hearing began with Allen insisting that he wanted out of the courtroom and did not care about what was going to happen to him. Durham proceeds to escalate sentencing for contempt until he reaches a year in contempt. Since Allen is facing a murder charge for allegedly beating another man to death in a county jail last August, he clearly is unimpressed:
What is incredible is that Durham follows this profane, unhinged defendant into a vulgar daring contest that would make more high school bullies blush:
The result is a core violation of judicial ethics. The preamble of the ethics code states:
 Every judge should strive to maintain the dignity appropriate to the judicial office. The judge is an arbiter of facts and law for the resolution of disputes and a highly visible symbol of government under the rule of law. Judges should avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in their professional and personal lives. They should at all times exhibit behavior that ensures the greatest possible public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence. As a result, judges should be held to a higher standard, and should conduct themselves with the dignity accorded their esteemed position.
Indeed, this conduct violates almost every basic judicial ethical rule of conduct including:
Rule 2.3 Bias, Prejudice, and Harassment
(A) Judges shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice.
(B) A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, or harassment based upon age, disability, ethnicity, gender or sex, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Judges shall not permit court staff, court officials, or others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.
(C) Judges shall require lawyers in proceedings before the court to refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice, or engaging in harassment, based upon attributes including, but not limited to, age, disability, ethnicity, gender or sex, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status, against parties, witnesses, lawyers, or others.
What is incredible is that, in the end, Allen may have succeeded in destroying the career of this judge. Where Durham succeeds in shocking Allen into virtual silence, he does so by adopting his own behavior. The problem is that Durham is not a crazy murder suspect but a judge representing the Georgia judiciary and legal system.
Durham received his undergraduate from the Mercer University and his J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law. He previously served as a municipal judge for the city of Rome, Georgia, and a Floyd County administrator. He was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue in 2003 and then ran unopposed for re-election to the Rome Superior Court.
Kudos: Professor Roger Schechter
17 thoughts on “When in Rome, Do As The Romans Do: Judge Joins Defendant In Trash Talking Tirade And Dares Him To Masturbate In The Courtroom”
That was fun! I agree with Paul – good on the judge.
More people need fortitude like this to stand up to $hitheads.
Dude shouldunah had a chip on his shoulder!
Let us be kind to GA. It was a penal colony. All the gene pools are still there The migrants from other states have broadened the base of population. Blame the English for shipping over the Irish many, many years ago. And when in Rome do as Romans do and whiz in public.
Having been in Rome GA many times, I have to agree with the posts that this will not cause much of a ripple in the town. The judge will probably be a local hero for verbally knocking down this fool. This is after all Sen Richard Russell’s hometown, the arch segregationist of the Senate.
I say that Judge Bryant Durham should get his own courtroom TV show. The guy’s a natural.
Judge Judy would never encourage a man to masturbate in her pretend courtroom.
Scott – if Judge Judy changed her program to HBO she just might encourage a man to masturbate. 😉
I agree with Darren’s post.
I am saddened that Judge Durham gave this maniac so much power over him. He’s handed him his career. If the guy gets life, there was no contempt sentence that would really make a difference. But he’ll get a good laugh at ruining the judge’s life.
Also, Allen admitted to being a pedophile, whether he was joking or not. So investigate him for that, too. I wonder if he will feel like such a big man when he has prison guards telling him when to go to sleep and when to wake up, and has zero privacy. Does he even get that he’s thrown away his own freedom?
For many judges, this dork would not get past the first f___ before being hauled back to his cell. This judge let him spout off, which earned him some serious contempt time. But this dork may have thought he would be the big man on the cellblock by bragging that he told the judge to _______. This would be worth a few more months of jail time
However, the judge humiliated this dork by showing that not only was he a dork, but he was a limp dork. He will have no bragging rights back with his “friends.”
IMHO the judge deserves nothing more than a routine admonition to keep decorum in his courtroom. The judge won the round.
No excuses. He better be thrown out of office, if he doesn’t resign immediately. What a disgraceful display of exemplary professionalism.
Donald Trump will probably ask him to be his AG.
I have read countless trial and deposition transcripts. This is in the upper echelon of entertaining.
Nick – it really deserves to be made into an illuminated manuscript. They could put dancing masturbators and judges on the edges.
Sticks and stones, is it that hard when you can put the person in the slammer for a few years, for the last word. The judge needs a vacation, therapy, pharmaceuticals, something.
The judge instead should have let the convict have the last vulgar word, then handed him the highest determinate sentence available. Afterward, the crook goes to prison and the judge can later have a nice dinner and a good scotch: the judge knowing of course he added a few years to the sentence simply because he could. That’s truly having the last word. When everyone else sees a judge that hands down his punishment in a professional manner, only in the judge’s mind does he know he truly got satisfaction.
I side with the judge. The dork needed to be talked down and he was. He also needs to be in a sole cell. No cell phone. No cover charge anytime. Do not let him back in the courtroom. Have him in a cell with a video camera and the court judge can yak to him from a distance. Deny him the right to see a Catholic priest. That is where all of this started. If he calls the court on the phone tell him Dave’s not here man.
There is a reasonable person concept and I am not sure a reasonable person would have tolerated the abuse by the defendant that this judge took before he found the one method that shut him up. That judge gutted the defendant right there in the courtroom for every one to see.
Personally, I am on the judge’s side.
Who knew? Apparently there really are constraints on judicial power.
It would seem that even a judge could figure out who holds all the power in that confrontation.
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to loose. And conversely, nothing left to loose yields a freedom that most of us will never know.
It’ll be interesting to see if the judge is subjected to any kind of discipline, whatsoever. This is, after all, Rome, Georgia, folks. A totally different concept as to what is, and isn’t, appropriate. His exchange was probably considered eloquent. Those hillbillies don’t play–especially the ones in black robes.
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