AGGRAVATED JUDGE TOSSES OFF ROBE, JOINS COURTROOM SCUFFLE
JACKSON, MI – Clearly growing agitated, Jackson County Circuit Judge John McBain threw off his robe and helped tackle to the ground a defiant man during a hearing on a personal protection order violation.
“Tase his ass right now,” the judge shouted as he rushed toward Jacob Larson, who had been talking back to the judge and blamed his alleged stalking behavior on the woman he was pursuing.
McBain had ordered the man to spend three days in jail, a period that quickly jumped to 93 days as Larson continued to aggravate the judge during the December hearing.
The resulting takedown was a rare instance of a judge using physical force, one Jackson County Chief Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson said was allowable. “A judge has the power to take whatever action is necessary to maintain order in the courtroom,” he said and noted circuit court judges have arresting powers.
Wilson had seen the court recording of the hearing, but there is no review process for such incidents, he said.
When McBain’s court officer went to take Larson into custody, he resisted. McBain said he was “hand fighting” the officer, Jared Schultz, then a deputized law clerk. Larson would not cooperate, tensed up and made a fist as though he was trying to fight, said Schultz, now working for the state Court of Appeals.
There were no other officers or any sheriff’s deputies in the courtroom – they are not typically present unless there is a jailed person in court – and McBain said he assisted in getting control of Larson’s hands, arms and elbows. Schultz, a former police officer, said he was fortunate to have the judge as backup.
Schultz said at one time he removed his Taser from its holster, but did not have to use it.
Even when Larson was on the floor, he wouldn’t allow the officer to cuff him, said McBain, who says he was concerned about the welfare of both men.
“There is one thing I don’t tolerate is disruptions in my courtroom,” McBain said.
Larson made an aggressive move toward the woman and was “totally disturbing the decorum of the court,” McBain said.
It was the first time McBain could recall that he had to leave the bench to help restrain a person in his courtroom and he talked about the volatility associated with protection orders, often granted as relationships disintegrate and when emotions are high.
Wilson has not, as a judge, had to physically get involved in a confrontation, but he talked of several times he had to step down from the bench to dissipate potentially dangerous situations.
Larson has since again violated the order and the county prosecutor’s office charged him in August with aggravated stalking, a felony punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.
McBain, having seen Larson’s actions in court, could potentially be a witness in the stalking case so he agreed to recuse himself from considering any more matters related to the protection order.
Larson has a court date scheduled for Dec. 2 in the criminal proceeding. An effort to contact him was unsuccessful and his lawyer in the stalking case declined to comment on his behalf.
“Obsessed” for reasons she did not know, he was a high school classmate of the woman, and sent her 22 Facebook messages after McBain signed the order in August 2015 and before the December hearing. “He’s not leaving me alone,” the woman, now 22, told the judge.
McBain noted that he “pretty clearly and unequivocally” warned Larson to avoid contact with the woman.
“She’s instigating it,” Larson replied and talked about pictures she posted wearing a lot of makeup and with her “hair done and all that stuff, the full nine.”
He repeatedly made statements about how she would not directly tell him to leave her alone.
“You know what? I told you to leave her alone and apparently that didn’t come through loud and clear,” the judge said, raising his voice, before ordering the jail time.
Larson then accused him of being “buddy, buddy” with the woman; McBain said this was not true. Though the judge’s daughter and the woman have some shared history, he said he knew neither Larson nor the woman.
McBain had first granted the order because the woman said Larson had been “stalking” her for about a year. She detailed two visits Larson made to her workplace. He stayed for hours. He left flowers. Her managers and police told him to stay away from her.