Judge Stephen Henriod
A Utah mother of four small children has been jailed on a judge's order to serve 30 days behind bars for allegedly sending a text message while she was watching a court proceeding.
The report comes from her father-in-law, Dennis Jackson, who told WND of the series of events that left his daughter-in-law, Susan Henwood, imprisoned.
A spokeswoman in the clerk's office for Judge Stephen L. Henriod of Utah's Third District Court confirmed the woman was jailed for the 30 days on the judge's order over the issue of texting.
However, she declined to answer other questions from WND, instead transferring WND to a voice mail for the judge's clerk. A woman identifying herself as Henriod's clerk later called but said the judge would not speak to any reporters.
According to Jackson's report, the incident happened in Tooele about a month ago, but his daughter-in-law was summoned to court only yesterday and ordered immediately to jail.
Henwood's husband, Josh Henwood, was in court over a civil dispute involving a development project on which he worked.
Susan Henwood allegedly sent a text message, an action that didn't affect the hearing, its participants, or the judge, but later was reported to him by a member of the court staff, according to Jackson.
She was summoned to court where Henriod ordered her immediately to jail for 30 days, responding to a request for bail with the condition that it would be allowed only if her husband paid a $70,000 judgment stemming from the civil dispute, Jackson reported.
Susan and Josh Henwood
Jackson reported there were no notices or warnings posted, a statement contradicted by the clerk's office spokeswoman, who told WND that visitors to court were told of the judge's ban on text messages. However, when asked how the warning was delivered, by sign or verbal statement, she said, "I have no idea."
Jackson also raised the issue that his daughter-in-law reported jailers were denying her access to needed medication, a statement also contradicted by jail staff members, who told him no medical attention had been refused.
"The media cannot find a better case of judicial arrogance and incompetence, and he should be removed from the bench," Jackson said.
He pointed out that the judge has made similar rulings in the past, once telling a woman in court for having too many dogs after having been cited earlier for the same thing: "She should have taken a gun and shot the other five before she came back to court, if she didn't have any other options. … She's going to jail today."
Conversely, in another case, Henriod gave a former teacher probation for having sex nearly 50 times with a 16-year-old boy.
"What is of primary importance to me is that [the boy] is doing well," the judge ruled.
The spokeswoman in the court clerk's office told WND that a "review" in the case is scheduled for Monday but declined to explain what was meant by "review."
A defense lawyer for the woman was working on a Writ of Habeas Corpus trying to get the woman freed and possibly into another jurisdiction, Jackson said.