As I mentioned yesterday, Joe Francis of "Girls Gone Wild" infamy has been representing himself in a federal civil lawsuit in Florida, a case brought by four women who were underage (one was 13) at the time he interacted with them. It's been a glorious few days for those who observe and comment on stupidity, but it has now come to an end.
Francis at least managed to make it to court on time Tuesday, but still had been threatened with contempt by the end of that day because of his courtroom conduct. It appears he was late again on Wednesday, which did not make Judge Richard Smoak any happier. But our hero was allowed to proceed.
And that was unfortunate for him. According to Wednesday's report, Francis has only been able to cross-examine the plaintiffs because he didn't submit his own witness and evidence lists when he was supposed to. Despite the fact that he was repeatedly told by the judge that his abusive style of cross-examination was likely alienating the jury – which, I'm happy to report, has eight women on it – he kept it up.
"Francis seemed unfamiliar with courtroom procedures," the report says, unnecessarily. "Most of his objections were overruled, and dozens of his comments had to be stricken from the record by the judge," who actually seems to have been relatively patient, considering. But the judge was clearly signaling that his patience was running out. "You have truly been behaving like a four-year-old," Judge Smoak told Francis. And although that's probably an improvement for him, he got no credit for it. "It's going to stop," Smoak said. "This is the final warning." Smoak also said he had never seen anyone act like Francis in 40 years on the bench, and, in a fairly telling point, asked him if he was on any medication.
No, Francis said, instead attributing his behavior to "ADHD" and "excess amounts of coffee."
Having somehow made it through that day, Francis only made it another two hours on Thursday before being held in contempt. Court proceedings started at 8:30 a.m., according to this report, and by 9 a.m. Francis had already had six more comments stricken from the record and five more individual sidebars with Judge Smoak. Finally, the judge had had enough. He held Francis in contempt and fined him $2,500 (payable by 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, so that seems likely to end in a jailing).
Francis later informed the judge that he had decided to stop representing himself, and had retained the services of two local attorneys (something he had repeatedly told the court he was too poor to do). What they will be able to do at this point is hard to say.
The judge has also ruled that Francis is no longer required to personally be in the courtroom during proceedings, which should make everybody a lot happier, except possibly for me. But I guess all good things come to an end.