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‘You’ll find out how nasty I really am’: A judge’s seething response to a hostile defendant

Superior Court Judge Bryant Durham and defendant Denver Fenton Allen exchanged heated words in a Georgia courtroom. (Rome News-Tribune.)

It started as a routine hearing in a Georgia courtroom. It ended as an extraordinary display of vulgarity — between a defendant and judge

Denver Fenton Allen, the defendant in a murder case, repeatedly threatened a judge and hurled crude obscenities and aggressive remarks during a hearing, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Allen was appearing before Bryant Durham Jr., a superior court judge in Floyd County. The hearing, held in Rome, Ga. last week, lasted less than 20 minutes.

But in that brief time, Allen and Durham launched a series of crude obscenities and aggressive remarks at each other in a heated exchange that was filled with offensive language, according to a transcript of the hearing.

Durham: I — I am finding — I’m finding you in contempt of court,” Durham said, after Allen made a obscene comment.
Allen: I don’t care.
Durham: I know you don’t. And I sentence you to 20 days for that. And if you say anything else, I’m going to add 20 days for everything you say.
Allen: F— you.
Durham: Forty days.
Allen: F— you again.
Durham: Sixty.
Allen: Go f— yourself.
Durham: A year.
Allen: Your mama.
Durham: Ten years.

Allen responded with another crass statement.

“You know something, this is going to be an interesting trial,” Durham said.

The already charged conversation continued to spiral down from there, as Durham and Allen — who reportedly stands accused in the fatal attack of an inmate — escalated their verbal exchange.

Allen often used sexually graphic language, mixed with obscenities. The judge, for his part, of Allen said, “You know, you look like a queer.”

“Well, okay,” Allen responded. “So now you’re calling me a queer in the courtroom.”

“I didn’t call you one,” Durham said. “I said you looked like one.”

As the clash dragged on, Durham eventually told Allen that he had a “constitutional right to be a dumbass.” And, later, Allen issued his threat.

“How about this?” he said. “I’ll kill your whole family. When I get in this trial, I will murder your whole family. I’ll cut your children up into pieces. I’ll knock their brains out with a f—— hammer and feed them to you.”

“Are–are you taking this down?” Durham asked, and a court reporter confirmed that they were. He later told Allen that he did not have any children.

It’s unclear if Durham’s comments could result in any disciplinary action. The Journal-Constitution reports:

The judge, while provoked in the extreme, made comments that could land him in trouble with the state judicial ethics agency. He not only exchanged vulgarities with Allen, he also said it was his “guess” that he’d find Allen guilty and that Allen would find out ‘how nasty I really am.’

As the conversation was ending, Durham told Allen that if a similar scene played out again, the defendant would not be staying in the courtroom. Allen responded with a vulgarity.

“Okay,” said Durham.

“I’m subpoenaing y’all’s a– in the courtroom,” Allen replied, as he was being escorted out.

A full transcript was posted online by law blogger Keith Lee. Please note that it (obviously) does contain obscenities and crass language.

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