Girl jailed for offensive t-shirt

I’m not even sure where to go with this so I’m just pasting the story here and we’ll see what everyone thinks.

“A civil suit will be filed next week by a Round Lake Park woman jailed for wearing a T-shirt with words a judge found objectionable.

“We intend to file a lawsuit next week,” said Peter Kalagis, attorney for Jennifer LaPenta.

He said the civil suit will be filed by next Wednesday in Lake County Ciruit Court.

“The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) wants to get involved. We’re still investigating the issue,” he added.

LaPenta, 20, accompanied a friend to appear before Judge Helen Rozenberg Monday wearing a T-shirt that read: “I own the (female body part), so I make the rules.”

The judge singled her out from the gallery and charged her with contempt of court. Rozenberg sentenced her to 48 hours in jail, but LaPenta was released Tuesday.

After LaPenta’s release from custody, Kalagis stated that he and his client wanted to sit down and discuss the matter with the judge. Both he and LaPenta contend that LaPenta’s rights were violated.

“We were going to reach out to the court, but they have refused to speak to us. It might require legal action,” Kalagis said.

Chief Judge Victoria Rossetti stated that it was inappropriate to comment on an ongoing matter, he said. She and Rozenberg said as much to the News-Sun as well.

LaPenta wore the T-shirt and sweat pants when she was released from jail. She said that she was at the gym when her friend asked her for a ride to the courthouse and did not have time to change.

Rozenberg ordered LaPenta handcuffed without giving her the opportunity to reverse her shirt or exit the courtroom, LaPenta reported.

She also contended that she never went to bond court or had the opportunity to call her mother after her arrest.

“This was wrong. This is going on her record and there was not one swear word on that shirt,” said Rachel LaPenta, Jennifer’s mother.

“The judge was on a power trip. Her rights were violated,” said Jennifer’s aunt, Rose Cirelli of Round Lake Park.

Kalagis said that legal action will “probably be brought forth.”

The story has garnered national interest. NBC contacted the News-Sun for information to air the story Wednesday. The ABC show “The View” asked the News-Sun for LaPenta’s photograph for its Thursday show.”

What does everyone make of this story?

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17 Responses to Girl jailed for offensive t-shirt

  1. SKL says:

    Well, the judge could have just thrown the woman out of the courtroom. Maybe he did tell her to leave and she got lippy, I don’t know.

    Who the heck wears a shirt like that, anyway? And even if she didn’t put it on for the benefit of the judge, why would her friend let her in the courtroom like that? Have young people today completely lost their minds? Obviously their self-respect is long gone.

  2. Ellen says:

    I am not sure what to think of this. She gets because of the judge actions, way too much attention for these types of t-shirts, and at the same time, women who are doing a good thing by fighting the cause of women who are in charge of their own body. are now in a bad “day light” because of her obstructive behavior.

    • SKL says:

      It wasn’t clear (in the article) what word was on the T-shirt, but if you look closely at the photo, you can see it starts with “P” and ends with “y,” hence a patently offensive term. If the word had been “vagina” or the like, I would have had a different reaction.

  3. Laura says:

    I agree with SKL – I wonder if there’s a side to this story that we’re not hearing. So far, we’ve only heard Miss LaPenta’s side, so of course, if she got mouthy with the judge, she is certainly not going to admit it.

    If it is as it appears, and she innocently went into that courtroom wearing a t-shirt and sweats (which, honestly, most people know that you make an *attempt* to dress nicely), the judge should have given her a few choices – leave the courtroom altogether or go to the bathroom and turn the shirt inside out. To summarily order the girl to jail for two days seems harsh to me, which is why I suspect some other contempt.

    A little to the side of the topic, I’m so sick and tired of people yelling “freedom of speech” every time they exercise their ability to offend. When you go to certain places – court, church, work, school – there is an appropriate dress code. Anyone raised with even the most basic of manners should know that. Just because you *can* do something – like wear an offensive t-shirt – doesn’t mean that you *should*. And then, when you DO wear that offensive t-shirt, you should also expect to stand up and accept the consequences like a man. Or a woman.

  4. Nikki says:

    Without knowing all facts I will say this women wearing the T-shirt should not have been put in jail. Thanks for wasting more money. Ask her to reverse it, leave the court room, but throwing her in jail seems over the top to me.

    The saying on the shirt is disgusting, vulgar, not court room appropriate. The girl should not have even gone in. I think it was a bad choice on her part, and a bad reaction on the judges part.

  5. SKL says:

    By the way, it should be noted that contempt of court is a real crime and judges have every right to sentence people who commit it. And it is not that unusual for them to do so. Respect for the court and judges is considered important. I think that’s how it should be. It should be that way in a lot of other places too, but particularly in court. People (on both sides) need to take court proceedings and judgments seriously.

    A little decorum never hurt anyone.

  6. starlaschat says:

    I need to get another cup of coffee, before I start sling words around like pussy, vagina and c@**. Oh man, hold on…..OK I’m back, fresh cup and started a new pot. So let see young lady wears offensive shirt to court and the judge throws her in the slammer. My thought is details, like SKL said “Maybe he did tell her to leave and she got lippy” that’s a good point. But really, this is rough on so many levels including freedom of speech. Don’t we have the freedom to be stupid if we want to? I don’t know. I’m thinking who would wear a shirt like that any where?

  7. lucy says:

    I feel sorry for this women. I understand that its an inappropriate shirt and don’t really understand why someone would want to wear it, BUT in her defense I read somewhere else that she was at the gym (wearing sweatpants and this shirt) when her friend asked her to drive her to court. Why couldn’t the judge just through her out of the room? Its not like the girl intentionally wore the shirt to piss off the judge….

    • SKL says:

      I understand that she “says” she didn’t go out of her way to piss of the judge. But why did she enter the courtroom in that shirt? You can drive your friend to court and sit in the waiting room. The courtroom is a place that requires respect. The judge should not have had to look at “Pussy Rules” in her courtroom. (I just noticed, it was a female judge.)

      I agree that he should have kicked her out and been done with it – assuming there wasn’t more to the story.

      Personally if I had a court appearance, I would never let my friend come in with me in that shirt. I would be afraid it would reflect badly on me and I could end up with a stricter sentence/fine than otherwise. Right or wrong. I prefer to time my free speech for times when I’m not appearing before a judge. I guess parents aren’t teaching their kids this kernel of wisdom nowadays.

  8. Joy says:

    I guess I’m with everyone else. My mom actually brought this story to my attention and I had to look really hard to even find it. She heard it on the radio and couldn’t even remember what channel she had on.

    Her point of view was this: when you enter the courtroom, the judge is king and can do whatever they want to do. A judge can’t make laws but can enforce almost anything that offends them.

    BUT….like everyone else has said, probably no jail time but asked to leave or turn it inside out. This is one of the first times I’ve ever agreed with my mom but you can’t buy class. If you own a shirt like this, you have none and if you wear it to a gym or anywhere in public let alone a courtroom, *get the picture* NO CLASS, NO MORALS and NO RESPECT.

    I’d also like to point out that I could really care less what people wear but don’t these people think people can read? Whether it’s your grandma or your grandchild. Is there no limit to a “funny” on a shirt? Christopher could read that shirt and I sure wouldn’t want to explain that to my 6 year old grandson.

    • Laura says:

      That’s just the thing, Joy… People DON’T care that others can read. Or they do care, and they wear this crap because they know that this is exactly what’s going to happen. They’re going to get attention.

      That’s why I said what I said about “freedom of speech”. Just because you have it doesn’t mean you should abuse it. But between inappropriate t-shirts and ridiculous facebook statuses (stati?), people are all about abusing it. shameful.

  9. Joy says:

    I also want to add that we don’t know the whole story. Of course whoever’s side was talked about won’t admit they did anything wrong. If this girl wore this shirt, she obviously doesn’t find anything wrong with it which leads me to think she might say “what did I do” in a pissy tone.

    Other than the nature of this shirt and that she entered a building like a courthouse in it, that judge could be an old battle ax. The whole story hasn’t come out yet and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to put this post in today. I know quite a few of us watch The View and apparently this will be talked about on Thursday’s show. They had to wait for permission to publish this young “lady’s” photo. I use the work young lady VERY LOOSELY.

    I’m not in any way saying I’m on the judges side but I do have a problem with someone who would own a shirt that said something like this and was older than 15.

  10. Matthew says:

    This is a humorous article. All the girl would have to do is claim common law jurisdiction upon her appearance in court. The case would be dismissed. If you don’t know your rights and how to claim them, then you’re going to fall under Civil Law jurisdiction, which is full of bullshit statutes.

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