Thanking the lord draws ire of judge.

Contempt citation follows reaction to not guilty verdict.

By: Ken Bobayashi

Honolulu Advertiser

Nov. 1. 2006

When it was announced in the courtroom last month that the jury found him not guilty of abusing his son , Junior Stowers raised his hands and exclaimed “Thank You, Jesus!”

But instead of leaving the courtroom Stowers was cited for contempt of court by Circuit Judge Patrick Border for the “outburst.”

For about six hours, Stowers had to remain in the courtroom and a cellblock until the Judge granted him a hearing on the contempt charge and released him. At a July 7th hearing, Border dropped the contempt charge, a petty misdemeanor that carried up to 30 days in jail.

Stowers couldn’t be reached fior comment yesterday, but Deputy Pubic Defender Susan Arnett, who represented him on the contempt matter, said although they were pleased with the verdict, and the dropping of the contempt case, said she doesn’t think Stowera wsas treated fairly.

“I don’t think there is anything about saying ”Thank you, Jesus!” that rises to the level of contemptuous behavior in this case, she said.

She said Stowers is a devoutly religious man that is active in his church, who spontaneously expressed his thanks to the highest power in which he believed.

He had gone from being found not guilty of a crime that he knew he didn’t commit to being held on a contempt charge, she said. “He was just stupefied by what happened,” Arnett said.

Family members and Ikaopo Sasle, Stowers pastor at Assembly of God Church, who watched from the gallery were, “very upset that those words could land someone in jail,” Arnett said.

Border yesterday declined to comment but indicated his actions are reflected in the court minutes, which indicated he found Stowers’ “non-verbal gestures and outbrursts to be disruptive and improper regardless of content.

Border later dropped the charge because he realized Stowers trial lawyer Deputy Public Defender Carmel Kwock did not have time to convey the Judges to Stowers that he should not show any emotion when the verdict was announce, the the court minutes said.

Stowers, 47, a Honolulu resident was charged with hitting his 15-year-old son with a broomstick in January. The misdemeanor charge of abusing a household member carries a sentence of up to a year in jail. Stowers was free on a $1,000 bond.

During the trial last month, the by recanted his earlier statement, that his father hit him, according to the court records. The boy testified that his brother had hit him with the car door. The boy’s brother testified he hit his brother with the door. Stowers denied hitting his son.

Just before the verdict was announced on June 29th, order called city Deputy Prosecutor Sean Sands and Kwock to the bench and told them both he didn’t want a show of emotion by either side. according to defense request to dismiss the contempt charges.

When Stowers made his remarks after the verdict was announced, the Judge told him, “There will be no more of that,” the papers said.

Stowers tried to approach the bench and apologize but the Judge told him he could not and ordered him to remain in the courtroom, the defense request said.

He was later taken to the cellblock He was released at 3 p.m.

Sanada said he took no position in the contempt case. “Judge Border is entitled to run the court in a way he deems appropriate.” Sanada said.

Arnett said that in 20 years of legal practice here she had not heard of a similar case. She said that defendants had been held in contempt after a Judge repeatedly issue warnings and a defendant ignores the admonitions, but Stowers had not caused any trouble in the courtroom and had not been given any warnings.

“Contemptuous behavior has to be much higher that what Stowers did.” she said

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