The Man Who Went to Jail for Yawning in Court is Free After 25 Days

The Will County judge who sentenced a Richton Park man to 6 months in jail for “making a loud yawning sound” set the man free Thursday without asking for an apology.

Judge Daniel Rozak, who according to court records has in the past typically accepted an apology before releasing people jailed on contempt charges, instead delivered a short lecture to Clifton Williams, 33, who stood before the bench in shackles.

“I just first of all want to make it clear: You were never in custody for yawning, you never were,” Rozak said. “It was a sound … that was offensive to the court.”

Rozak asked Williams if he understood, then ordered him released. Williams spent three weeks in jail.

It was a quiet end to a case that made national and international headlines.

Williams’ family expressed relief.

“I’m just glad he’s out, but in my mind I think it was still a messed-up thing,” said his father, Clifton Williams Sr., who was in court Thursday. “I’ve heard of people getting less time and they’re dealing drugs or shot somebody.”

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