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TGI Fridays Server Flips Off Prosecutor Gets Jail Time in Casey Anthony Trial

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by copythat

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In The News

Casey Anthony may be defending herself in a murder trial but another man found himself with charges from Judge Belvin: A 28-year-old spectator was found in contempt of court for giving the middle finger to a prosecutor. It probably wasn't the media exposure TGI Friday's restaurants wanted: the man arrested is one of its servers.
It's the murder trial that has Casey Anthony accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, and possibly facing the death penalty if found guilty. Defense had rested and jurors and attorneys had left the courtroom in the ongoing Casey Anthony trial when Matthew Bartlett got busted by the court's judge.
When Judge Perry asked an upset TGI Friday's employee why he'd "flipped off" state prosecutor Jeff Ashton at the murder trial, Bartlett was unable to provide a reason. It seems the restaurant employee was unaware of the presence of courtroom cameras -- which provided photographic evidence of the server giving the prosecutor the finger in court. Bartlett had no option but to admit to flipping off the prosecutor.
Judge Perry's question, "What is that symbol that you are projecting with your fingers?", was answered by a sheepish Barlett: "Using my middle finger. I am sorry.”
Unfortunately for the TGI Friday's employee, the court includes posted signs that include a policy which warns hand gestures and facial expressions -- in reaction to court proceedings -- to be barred from the court. The server's acknowledgment of stupidity and apology didn't work out so well: the Anthony murder trial spectator was found in contempt of court, sentenced to six days in jail and fined $400 plus additional court costs of $223.
In a murder trial that's already gone on for over a month, the judge told Bartlett his flipping off the prosecutor “could have jeopardized” all the work put into the trial. The Casey Anthony trial is expected to come to a close in just days -- with closing arguments beginning Sunday, July 3, 2011 which may include a rollover into July 4 before jury deliberations.
The TGI Friday's server's plea to the judge -- that he makes only $15,000 annually and has less than thirty bucks in his bank accounts didn't go too far. It did gain him an extra six months to pay the fine. But now the courtroom spectator faces a legal charge himself, which he's planning to appeal -- but needs a public defender.
As it turns out, the state's prosecutor didn't even notice being flipped off: He says he didn't notice Bartlett sticking up his finger up but says it's "just another odd aspect of this case."


Pinellas County Court Criminal Justice Center
14250 49th Street North
Clearwater, FL 33762
United States
Phone: (727) 453-7025
27° 54' 10.062" N, 82° 42' 2.394" W
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