Judge Joe Brown Jailed for Causing 'Near Riot' in Tenn. Courtroom

By Brett Snider, Esq. on March 25, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Former TV Judge Joe Brown spent a brief stint in jail for contempt of court after becoming "pretty raucous" in a Tennessee courtroom.

Brown may be too used to sitting behind the bench, but the chief magistrate for Shelby County's Juvenile Court said judges and staff alike were "floored" at the way Brown challenged the authority of Magistrate Harold Horne, reports Memphis' WMC-TV.

What did Brown say to get him slapped with contempt of court?

TV Judge Versus Real-Life Judge

Ex-TV Judge Joe Brown (now just Lawyer Joe Brown) reportedly arrived in the Memphis courtroom to represent a client in a child custody case. After Magistrate Horne attempted to set a hearing date, Brown is heard (in a courtroom audio recording obtained by TMZ) threatening to file a petition for habeas corpus to "shut this place down":

After that, Brown focuses less on his client's case, and more on the "authority" of Magistrate Horne to hear the case at all. Judges and magistrates can hold a person in criminal contempt of court for defying or disrespecting the authority of a judicial officer like Magistrate Horne.

It seems like Brown was prepared to be held in contempt as well, since he is heard telling the courtroom that he has "$10" for the contempt charge's bail. According to WMC-TV, Brown was charged with contempt "five times" before bailiffs were able to escort him out of the courtroom.

The chief magistrate told The Associated Press that Brown "darn near caused a riot in the courtroom, he had people so inflamed."

Judge Judy and the other TV judges must be shaking their heads.

Jailed for a Few Hours

According to the Shelby County Sheriff's Office booking log, Brown was booked into Shelby County jail about 3 p.m. Monday, and was released sometime later that day.

The booking log -- which is public record -- is also where news sources like CNN have snagged Brown's mugshot. (Sidebar: If his ex-judge mug shows up later on a mugshot website, he may be able to get it removed.)

Brown was released on his own recognizance, meaning he did not have to pay bail with the promise that he'll return for any future court dates. So it seems Brown got to keep the $10 he was planning to spend on bail.

And since Judge Joe Brown's show was cancelled last year by CBS, he should have plenty of time to return to court to resolve his case. Brown, 66, is currently running for Shelby County district attorney, CNN reports.

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