Sunday, May 23, 2010


T-shirt girl asks judge to vacate contempt ruling
T-shirt girl is going to court Monday as a defendant, at which time she will get to prove that she can appear before a judge in more than sweat pants and a T-shirt that the judge considered offensive.

Lake County Circuit Court Associate Judge Helen Rozenberg found Round Lake Park resident Jennifer LaPenta, 20, in contempt of court May 3 for wearing a T-shirt that read": "I have the (female body part), so I make the rules."
LaPenta was sentenced to 48 hours in jail and was released after about a day. After she was released, she told The News-Sun that she would never wear that outfit if she was appearing in court for herself.

She has the opportunity to prove it when she appears before Rozenberg for a hearing.

"I'm going to be dressed up -- I'm not going to wear anything offensive," LaPenta said Friday.

She said she planned to wear business clothes to her premiere court appearance on her own behalf.

Her attorney, Peter Kalagis of Park Ridge, said the hearing is to ask that the judge remove the criminal contempt charge from LaPenta's previously unblemished permanent record.

Kalagis has contended since this occurred that his client's First Amendment rights were violated.

"We as a people are free to express ourselves in words and writing as long it doesn't cause harm," Kalagis said.

He said that most people in theirs 20s, 30s and 40s would not find the T-shirt LaPenta wore offensive.

LaPenta was wearing that shirt to work out when a friend requested a ride to the courthouse about 20 minutes before the start of the afternoon court session, Kalagis said. LaPenta had said that after she was released from jail.

"She never thought anything of it (the T-shirt). She didn't give it a second thought. What's interesting, too, is that she passed deputies, clerks and court personnel. Nobody told her it was inappropriate and they're on the lookout for stuff like that," Kalagis said.

LaPenta offered to remove the shirt and exit the courtroom. Instead, she was remanded into custody right away, according to Kalagis and LaPenta.

Rozenberg wrote that LaPenta was in the front row of the gallery "wearing a shirt displaying obscene wording" in the order she filed. Rozenberg also wrote that LaPenta gave "no excuse" for her attire.

Kalagis contests this in the paperwork he filed requesting the judge vacate the criminal contempt order.

Rozenberg can decide to change the order, he said.

Kalagis had previously spoken of his intention to file a civil suit. He said Friday that LaPenta was not seeking monetary damages.

"I'm just looking to get it off my record. I'm not filing a lawsuit," LaPenta said.

She is scheduled to appear before the judge at 9 a.m. Monday

 See Also:
Karpal seeks review of coroner's 'no contempt' ruling

Procedures for Joe Arpaio contempt hearing unclear 


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