By Kelsey Givens
One man found out the hard way this week that arguing with a judge and causing an uproar in court can come at a price — like spending the holidays in jail.
Brian Karl Turner, who was in Judge Kimberly Wanker’s Fifth Judicial District court Monday morning for sentencing, was given 25 days in the Nye County Detention Center and a $500 fine after he became disruptive, refusing to answer questions and making accusations about the judge when warned to behave.
Turner set the tone for his appearance from the moment he walked in front of the judge, refusing to remove his sunglasses in the courtroom.
He claimed he had an injury to his eye — different from one he described at his last court appearance several weeks ago. He told the judge he would not be removing the stylish eyewear, despite having no medical proof with him of the injury.
“No, I’m not going to,” Turner said when the judge told him a final time to remove his glasses.
As Wanker attempted to move on after arguing with Turner about the sunglasses, he interrupted her for the first of many times, stating he was demanding more time with his attorney to speak about his case.
“My attorney was not present at the last legal proceeding and she was 45 minutes late for this legal proceeding so I have not had an opportunity to discuss with her the terms of the sentencing based on the agreement from the very last court proceeding. So that’s what I’m demanding,” he told the judge.
Wanker corrected Turner, telling him it was only a little after 9 a.m., and her calendar had just started, so his attorney was in fact not late at all. She also attempted to tell Turner that his attorney had been medically excused from the last appearance, which is why she wasn’t present.
Turner continued to argue with Wanker about his attorney not being present at the last court date, however, despite Wanker’s continued attempt to move on to sentencing.
Since it was clear Turner needed additional time to speak to his attorney about his case, Wanker told the defendant and his counsel that she was more than happy to trail the matter until later.
“Mr. Turner I am happy to trail your matter, but you need to get a hold of your attitude,” Wanker warned him.
“I’m actually a hold of my attitude,” Turner quickly replied.
Angered by his response, Wanker told Turner if he continued to act this way she would have no problem finding him in contempt of court and placing him in jail for the next 25 days and fining him $500.
“Would you have done that with Bob Beckett?” Turner asked in response to her warning.
A large gasp was heard from others in the courtroom as the judge, clearly flustered and angered by the remark, responded that she would find anyone acting that way in her courtroom in contempt of court, no matter who they were.
“I, I would do it with anyone who stepped in my courtroom,” Wanker said.
Instead of dropping the accusation, Turner continued saying “OK, but Bob Beckett, our district attorney, who committed 43 charges? … I am simply asking for equal justice.”
“You are not helping your case and if you say another word I will put you in handcuffs,” Wanker replied, cutting Turner off.
As he began to speak again, the judge slammed her gavel down with a loud bang, telling Turner this was his last chance if he wanted her to give him the opportunity to speak with his attorney before sentencing.
As he began to go down the line of Beckett questioning once again, Wanker became more angry, telling Turner to be quiet and not to say another word.
“Mr. Turner, I am the judge and I ask the questions in the courtroom. You are the defendant and you do not. Now let me explain something to you loud and clear, OK? If you would like the opportunity to have this matter trailed, I am happy to do that,” she began before she was interrupted again.
“Shut up! Mr. Turner, be quiet. Let me put it in language maybe you can understand … I’m the judge here, you are not, you are the defendant and you need to learn your role here in the courtroom.”
After getting nowhere with Turner, the judge based on both she and her bailiff’s suspicions of his behavior, turned back to the defendant and point-blank asked him if he was under the influence of alcohol.
“Under the influence of what? … No I’m not, are you?” he responded to the judge’s question.
Wanker then ordered Turner to take an alcohol and drug test to see if he was intoxicated in the courtroom, trying to find an explanation for his erratic behavior.
Turner refused to answer Wanker’s question and instead attempted to talk about his attorney and ask why he was “denied the opportunity to be represented by legal defense,” at his last court date.
“That’s irrelevant to the proceedings today. I am aware of why she didn’t arrive, I received a medical report,” Wanker told him over and over again.
“I believe you’re intoxicated in this courtroom and my bailiff has indicated the same thing. I cannot go forward with sentencing if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I am going to require you to submit to a drug and alcohol test. If you’re unwilling to do that, then I’m going to hold you in contempt of court.”
When he continued to refuse to answer, Turner was found in contempt of court and sent to jail.
“We will place you into custody for 25 days and I will fine you $500 and we will bring you back in three weeks, at which time I know you’ve been in custody for three weeks and that you will be clean and sober and I can move forward with sentencing,” she said.
Turner’s sentencing date was then continued until Jan. 14 at 9 a.m.