Montgomery, AL (by Marty Roney/USA Today) -- Autauga County Circuit Court Judge John Bush says he's shocked by the national attention he is receiving after sending a 20-year-old man to jail for three days because his jeans sagged too low.
Bush, a jurist with more than 25 years on the bench, said his office had fielded calls from media outlets nationwide since the three-day contempt of court citation was first reported in the Montgomery Advertiser on Wednesday.
"People are asking me: Is this out of the norm?" Bush said. "And I tell them 'no,' that the only thing that's different is that most of the time I give a person five days in jail." But this time, the judge added, a reporter happened to be in the courtroom.
LaMarcus Ramsey, of Prattville, was in circuit court Tuesday to enter a plea on a charge of receiving stolen property. Bush took exception to the fact that Ramsey's blue jeans were sagging and gave him a three-day stint in the Autauga Metro jail.
"You are in contempt of court because you showed your butt in court," a visibly irate Bush told Ramsey. "You can spend three days in jail. When you get out you can buy pants that fit, or at least get a belt to hold up your pants so your underwear doesn't show."
News of the judge's ruling spread quickly.
"It's what everybody is talking about. People working in the courthouse and folks who have business in the courthouse," Circuit Clerk Whit Moncrief said. "I've never seen anything like this. There's more talk in town about this than past capital murder cases where we've had the death penalty handed down."
"I say good for Judge Bush," said Joan Thompson, a Prattville resident. "This is a pet peeve of mine. Nobody wants to see somebody else's butt or underwear. It is a sign of disrespect, and I'm glad somebody finally had the nerve to do something about it."
Bush said he understands why the situation has struck a chord.
"I feel the public in general is sick and tired of the fundamental lack of respect we see in everyday life," he said. "This is the courtroom. You need to respect the building and what it stands for. This is not my courtroom. This is the people's house. And the citizens of the 19th Judicial Circuit of Alabama expect me to preserve the dignity and respect of their courtroom."
Heather Dixon, who represents Ramsey on the receiving stolen property charge, could not be reached for comment.