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Cuyahoga County Judge Apologizes for Taping Man's Mouth Shut and Recuses Himself From Sentencing

photo of Franklyn Williams
Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Russo recuses himself from Franklyn Williams' sentencing after he ordered Williams' mouth be duct taped shut during his sentencing hearing last week.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John Russo recused himself from the sentencing of a man he ordered gagged with duct tape last week. Video of the incident gained national and international attention, but the judge apologized for his actions Monday.

32-year-old Franklyn Williams sat silently through the hearing, until the very end as he was led out the courtroom.

"Freedom of speech. No duct tape,” he said.

Williams’ silence was a stark contrast to his sentencing hearing last week. Russo said Williams interrupted some 60 times. And he was asked to stop.

Russo said he asked for duct tape to be placed over Williams' mouth so the defendant could remain in the courtroom for his sentencing. The judge said he knows many people are questioning that decision.

“To maintain the confidence of our justice system and to leave no question of bias in anyone’s mind, I’m going to recuse myself, and I will request the Ohio Supreme Court to appoint a new judge to conduct your sentencing,” he said.

Williams was convicted in December on several counts, including aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and theft.