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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:40 PM

Penelope Soto, Fla. teen who flipped off judge, apologizes and avoids 30-day sentence

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57568468-504083/penelope-soto-fla-teen-who-flipped-off-judge-apologizes-and-avoids-30-day-sentence/

(CBS) MIAMI - Penelope Soto, the Florida teen who was jailed after flipping off a Miami-Dade judge, avoided a month behind bars Friday after she apologized to him in person, reports CBS Miami.

The video of 18-year-old Penelope Soto's appearance before Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat on Monday went viral due to her laughing throughout the proceeding, giving the judge the middle finger and telling him, "Go (expletive) yourself!" in response to the judge raising her bond from $5,000 to $10,000. Soto had been arrested on charges of possession of Xanax.

Soto tearfully apologized to the judge and admitted she was under the influence of Xanax and alcohol during her first hearing. He then dropped her contempt of court charges and vacated her 30-day jail term.

Soto's lawyer said she will complete a drug court program, which includes treatment for drug addiction and usually results in charges eventually being dropped for first-time offenders.

32 replies, 2850 views

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Reply Penelope Soto, Fla. teen who flipped off judge, apologizes and avoids 30-day sentence (Original post)
steve2470 Feb 2013 OP
Archae Feb 2013 #1
Lucky Luciano Feb 2013 #2
Archae Feb 2013 #4
bluestateguy Feb 2013 #3
XRubicon Feb 2013 #5
dballance Feb 2013 #8
reorg Feb 2013 #16
dsc Feb 2013 #20
reorg Feb 2013 #21
dsc Feb 2013 #22
reorg Feb 2013 #23
dsc Feb 2013 #25
reorg Feb 2013 #27
Bake Feb 2013 #31
dballance Feb 2013 #26
reorg Feb 2013 #29
dballance Feb 2013 #32
Honeycombe8 Feb 2013 #9
Politicalboi Feb 2013 #6
hobbit709 Feb 2013 #7
reorg Feb 2013 #10
blueamy66 Feb 2013 #28
limpyhobbler Feb 2013 #11
oberliner Feb 2013 #12
limpyhobbler Feb 2013 #15
oberliner Feb 2013 #18
limpyhobbler Feb 2013 #19
oberliner Feb 2013 #13
one_voice Feb 2013 #14
R B Garr Feb 2013 #17
quinnox Feb 2013 #24
gulliver Feb 2013 #30

Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:50 PM

1. I figured she was stoned and/or drunk.

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Response to Archae (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:00 PM

2. The way she kept touching herself and running her

...fingers through her hair during the hearing made me think she was rolling on some E.

Clearly she was a bit F-Ed up.

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Response to Lucky Luciano (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:07 PM

4. Xanax and alcohol...

Isn't that what killed Whitney Houston?

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:05 PM

3. I do not condone her flipping off the judge

That is about as far as I am willing to go.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:13 PM

5. I dont agree with what she did, However

She is an American citizen, not convicted of anything. The state should treat the accused with the same respect they wish to be treated.

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Response to XRubicon (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:48 PM

8. I've Watched the Video Multiple Times - Soto was the Only Disrespectful Person

Ms. Soto, as was noted in the OP, appeared to be under the influence of drugs at her appearance. The judge was quite patient with her despite her obvious lie to him that she had not taken drugs within the last 24 hours. In the latest video she admits she had. So she lied to him and he knew it. Everyone with half a brain watching her knew it. None the less, the judge never raised his voice or said an unkind word. He didn't even call her on her obvious lie by insisting she have a drug test. Which would have been an appropriate thing to do. He was also quite patient with her when she couldn't answer simple questions.

Ms. Soto was treated with respect by the court. No one was, rude, condescending or otherwise snarky to her. She was treated like any other accused person and would have had the typical bail of $5,000, same as any other person accused of drug possession in that court, and not had a 30-day jail sentence for contempt if she hadn't been a smart-ass to the judge and then thrown an expletive at him while flipping him off. She got more respect than she earned.

It was Soto who made the smart-assed "adios" comment as she left the first time and it was Soto who told the judge "F**K YOU" and flipped him off. She got exactly what her disrespectful actions deserved.


By the way, if you look at her demeanor in the first video and compare it to her demeanor in the second video it's pretty apparent she came down off whatever high she was on in the first video.

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Response to dballance (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:51 PM

16. feel free to elaborate

why you would label a common greeting "smart-assed".

Her smile when she says "adiós" is sweet and endearing. So, remember, you are impugning her apparent intention here, to be nice and friendly, relieved that the unpleasant situation is over, after looking concerned and anxious while the proceedings are going on.

Since we cannot look into the heads of others, you need to explain what you think her intention was and how you came to the conclusion that it was there. Expect to be contradicted, since I am absolutely certain, having watched the video many times, that there was nothing "smart-assed" about it.

Ms Soto was not at all treated with respect, the numskull carrying out the interrogation was extremely rude and condescending all the way, even raising his voice when reminding her to "be serious abaht it". He never took into account the age and the situation his counterpart was in, snarkily refused to let the PD intervene and finally DELIBERATELY upset an already troubled young person FOR NO GOOD REASON AT ALL simply because her farewell was spoken in the common first language of the both of them. Finally, I suspect, he violated proper procedure and we know that his decision was reversed a day or two later.

In addition, as you very well know, the judge has a history of acting inappropriately as I have already pointed out here.

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Response to reorg (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 12:05 AM

20. yes the poor drug addled twit got yelled at

bring me the world's smallest violin.

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Response to dsc (Reply #20)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 12:52 AM

21. and she told him off alright

- and the world saw who is the worst judge in Miami.

While, uh, some people ... are still celebrating the emperor's new clothes.

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Response to reorg (Reply #21)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 12:54 AM

22. she was in contempt of court

not to mention being drunk in court. Had she been an ugly black girl the internet wouldn't have given a fig. She was pretty and white and that made all the difference.

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Response to dsc (Reply #22)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:11 AM

23. actually, that's okay

because her contempt was justified and the judge finally had the good sense to let it go.

I don't know what you are trying to say by juxtaposing "ugly black" with "pretty and white", my feeling is it is something disgusting. So I'll leave it at that.

My impression after watching her and her family in these videos is, however, that she descended from indigenous inhabitants of the Americas or immigrants from South Asia and quite likely has also ancestors of African descent. The Latin press described her as "a Latina". Naturally, she is pretty - but not just that, she also seems very bright, sensitive and outspoken. The latter is what I find most appealing about her.

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Response to reorg (Reply #23)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:20 AM

25. the fact is if she had been ugly

no one would have given a damn.

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Response to dsc (Reply #25)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:38 AM

27. I doubt that

Personally, I immediately got the impression that she was sincere throughout the interview and that is why I give a damn.

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Response to reorg (Reply #23)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:31 PM

31. Contempt of court is rarely "justified"

And certainly not by a defendant who is high or drunk. If you think that was justified, try it the next time you have to go to court and see how long you land in jail. Any judge in the country would have done the exact same thing to Ms. Soto. The only thing that was justified was the contempt citation.

Bake

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Response to reorg (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:30 AM

26. Oh, Please. I'm Happy to Elaborate reorg.

You're concluding that she intended to be sweet and endearing so now you're the one looking into her head to conclude that. If you're able to discern that as your opinion then I'm equally able to discern she was being a smart-ass in my opinion. As for relief that the unpleasant situation was over I sincerely doubt she gave that much thought. As she admitted later she had been using drugs. It was quite apparent to anyone watching the video that was the case despite her lie to the judge to the contrary. She showed no awareness of the seriousness of the situation so I find it hard to believe she was "relieved" and trying to be nice and friendly. She certainly didn't seem to be nervous or stressed as she stood there playing with her hair, swaying and being almost incoherent in her answers. Don't even try to convince me those were her nervous reactions; they were intoxication behaviors. Her "adios" was an inappropriate reaction delivered due the the fact her judgement was impaired by the drugs with which she was intoxicated. When a judge passes sentence one should just get out of the court room.

I've had the opportunity to observe court proceedings like the one in which Ms. Soto was involved over several years. In drug court in Miami actually. Just as in the video there is a line of the accused waiting for their turn before the judge. Never, did I observe a defendant make comments to the judge after sentencing was passed like Ms. Soto did. They all had the good sense to keep their mouth shut and get out of the court room.

I love how you try to frame it that she was just a troubled, young person who was deliberately upset by that mean old judge. That she spoke her farewell in the common first language of them both - as if it were just a nice social event and not a bail hearing for her allegedly being in possession of Xanax without a prescription. That was so lyrical but yet so ridiculous. She was in a court of law for drug possession, not at a coffee clutch, or ladies auxiliary meeting. Here again you're "looking into the heads of others" and determining the judge deliberately intended to upset her. I think, at the most, he was trying to teach her a lesson about respect for the courts and was well within his authority to do so. She seemed to finally start getting it that the situation was actually serious when he doubled the bail.

The judge was actually restrained, I think, since she clearly perjured herself with her lie about not having taken drugs within the last 24 hours. If he really was trying to be mean he could have sent her for a drug test and then given her a much longer sentence for perjury than the 30 days for contempt when drug test came back positive. So he actually did show her some kindness by not adding another felony to her record. Possession of Xanax w/o a prescription is a felony in FL.

As for not allowing the PD to intervene; well that's just the way the system works. The PD's are for people who cannot afford attorneys. Ms. Soto declared her jewelry was worth "a lot of money." Since she was too high to be able to answer the question in terms of dollars and cents the judge took her word for it. So he declared she could sell that jewelry to pay for her own attorney. Just as he might have declared someone who had other types of assets they could sell or use as collateral for a loan should do so to pay for their representation instead of throwing another case on the already overburdened PDs, who are paid for by taxpayers.

You suspect he violated proper procedure? Well now it's my turn to ask you to elaborate on what proper procedures he violated. If it's the bail amount you're thinking of then no procedures were violated. Just because the usual bail for the offense of which she was accused is $5,000 and that's the amount the prosecutor requested doesn't mean the judge had to make her bail that amount. He could have lowered it just as easily as he raised it.

I find this statement particularly biased on your part: "the numskull carrying out the interrogation was extremely rude and condescending all the way, even raising his voice when reminding her to "be serious abaht it." That's your opinion and you are entitled to it. My opinion is he was none of those things of which you accuse him. As for being serious about it, that was good advice as much as it was an admonishment she well deserved given her behavior. By the way, if the judge wants to interrogate the accused in his court room that's his right as a judge to do so. I like how you used the word "interrogation" rather than "questioning" because interrogation brings on a much more visceral response now after being associated with torture aka enhanced interrogation procedures. You could write for FOX news.

Also thanks for the thinly veiled racist plug in that phrase by writing out the judge's quote as "be serious abaht it." Way to go. You got that dig on his Spanish accent in there. And what's up with the "note the expensive looking bling on his (the judge's) right hand in your thread?" How exactly is that at all relevant to anything concerning this issue? Was it some attempt to disparage the judge just because he has an expensive looking ring? Another thinly veiled racist shout out based on the stereotype that all latinos love their bling? Their gold chains and rings? Maybe he got it out of a Cracker Jack box. You have no way of knowing one way or the other.

Now let's address the judge's past behavior you feel was so egregious. One of the stories you link to is about him getting in a scuffle on the FL house floor in 1998. Newsflash - that was 15 years ago. That story is way past its sell-by date. The other link leads us to a story with the shocking report that "In a 2010 Dade County Bar Association judicial poll, Rodriguez-Chomat "was rated unqualified by more than 46 percent of respondents," according to Jose Pagliery, then a Daily Business Review staff writer." Which of course sounds really bad if you discount the fact that the survey was sent to 14,000 judges and attorneys but only 1,187 of those surveys were returned for a staggering 8% response rate. Attorneys and judges are pretty busy people. Attorneys charge by the hour so it's no real surprise there was such a poor response rate. Of the people motivated enough to waste billable hours to complete the survey I'm sure none of them had axes to grind. Quoting a survey with only an 8% response rate in a "news" story is journalistic malfeasance.

Well, if you're going to try to impugn the judge based on his past behaviors what of Ms. Soto's past behaviors? Is this the first time she's been in this situation? Does she have a history of DUII or drug possession charges on her record? We don't know because no one has reported on it. I can't find anything by googling. Of course, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

If this woman is, as you say in your post to which you linked, your hero then you've set the bar for hero so low I'm not sure anyone could limbo under it.

Cheers

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Response to dballance (Reply #26)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:28 AM

29. so why are you dodging my only question

and bury your failure in such a long essay instead?

I wanted to know: What is "smart-assed" about the common greeting "adiós"?

It is immediately apparent that she smiles while saying it, in a pleasant way, very sweet and endearing. If you want to show that there was something else behind her demeanor, some undisclosed evil intention, you need to explain. It's not just a matter of opinion. Give us a clue.

Smart- as opposed to dumb-ass? That much I would concede. Still, I want to know why you would think she behaved like an ass when she said farewell in Spanish and how this would justify doubling the amount of bail. Nobody ever explained it. The news hacks are undecided: did she "mock him" (over what?), or is it somehow inappropriate to return the farewell by the judge in a certain way, or any at all, as you seem to suggest? But why, and how is one supposed to know that, being in court for the first time?

She did not "giggle", BTW, while she was saying it, as many news hacks falsely claim. It was just a friendly smile. Except for the short, embarassed laughter when she doesn't know how to answer a question, she doesn't "giggle" at all. The judge, OTOH, clearly and audibly snickers extensively at least two or three times. Just as he grins quite often. Whenever the girl smiles, it's in return to a grin or laughter by the judge - easily explicable as she watches him closely. It's what affable people do when they try to follow the situation and want to appear courteous, friendly and compliant: they empathize with their counterparts and show their emotions through gestures and facial expressions.

So, how about another try to answer my question? Then we can proceed to your other observations if that's what you desire, thanks.

Bling http://is.gd/xsCkPc
Bling http://is.gd/CRtcmw

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Response to reorg (Reply #29)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:21 PM

32. You Just Can't Let it Go. Even When You're So Wrong

There is nothing inherently "smart-assed" about the common use of "adios." She's not smiling in a "pleasant way, very sweet and endearing." She's smiling because she is so high on drugs that's all her impaired judgement will allow her to do. The statement by her was "smart-assed" because she made it to get in the last word. Probably has been allowed to do that all her life until now. That's the I took it and the way many other people, including the judge took it. You can read other posts in your original thread and this thread that say essentially the same thing I'm saying.

The judge appears to take it as her being rude or snide like so many of us watching did. If that was his interpretation then he did what was completely within his authority to do to snap her into a state of taking the proceedings seriously and her situation of being charged with a felony seriously. It seemed to work. She started paying more attention. Right up until the time she cursed him and flipped him off. Then when he questioned her about that she seemed rather proud of herself and defiant.

I just watched the video again. The judge never snickered, audibly or otherwise. You are right, he does smile or grin in an attempt to connect with her and make her feel comfortable and at ease. Which makes him neither a "numbskull" nor a jerk. So much nicer than a grim snarl the whole time.

Please, "embarrassed laughter when she doesn't know how to answer a question?" Sorry, no. It's not at all because she doesn't know how to answer. She laughs the first time because she so proud of herself she can say she has a whole lot of jewelry. Then she laughs the second time because her drug-impaired brain caused her to have an inappropriate reaction in her situation. She says the judge made her laugh; which I can't understand what he did that was amusing - unless you're high. But he lets her off on that and tells her "that's alright" in response to her saying he made her laugh. Again, not a jerk. He starts to get serious with her and tell her she's "not in a club" when she continues to giggle and laugh inappropriately rather than answer a straight-forward question about how much her jewelry is worth.

Now, I answered your question, not so you'd answer mine but to reinforce just how wrong and biased you are in Ms. Soto's favor.

You asked me to elaborate. Too bad you got more than you wanted in my answer. Your arguments in favor of Ms. Soto and your arguments to impugn the judge are both so weak as to be meaningless. It would have been wrong not to address them.

I could care less if you answer any of the arguments I made or questions I posed in my post. The answers will all, doubtless, be as weak, unsubstantiated and meaningless as the drivel you've posted so far.

But, if you wish to respond; in the words of President Obama:

Proceed reorg.

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Response to XRubicon (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:50 PM

9. She wasn't treated disrespectfully, as far as I know. nt

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:14 PM

6. Flipping off a judge, Really!

Who does she think she is, Go fuck yourself Dick Cheney.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:17 PM

7. I guess she learned her lesson.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:04 PM

10. That's all very well

were it not for the false characterizations in the CBS story, which BTW was already posted here yesterday.

The video did not go viral due to her laughing - what an asinine assertion. It went viral because people wanted to see why she flipped the finger and why on earth she would get 30 days in jail for that.

We needed to watch that video because many journalists, like the one who wrote the report cited in the OP, are completely distorting the picture. They do this because they feel it is their job to defend the failed war on drugs, the inhuman US justice system and participate in stifling any criticism over abuses that occur due to incompetence and failures by the representatives of that system.

More than 10 million have watched the video, more than 40,000 have commented (and that's just for on one video posting alone), which indicates there is a discussion going on - which most hacks writing the news these days are trying to obfuscate.

So, Penelope Soto went through the motions, listened to her lawyer and her family, and recited the required apology to give the judge an opportunity to make this "contempt" thing go away, which was much more embarrassing for him than anybody else. Naturally, the family was also not enthused to see her daughter being drawn into the limelight, chastised and maligned on the national news. Watch the video of her apology "not only to the court (and you) but to my family" and you'll see that it's when she mentions the family what causes the emotions.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b28_1360360812

Also, note the interesting comment from poster Jonathan Corbett in the comments section of this article:

Soto's case has captured national attention, even spawning a Facebook fanpage and a "Free Penelope" Twitter feed.

http://is.gd/9pA5Bf


Facebook page Free Penelope Soto

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Response to reorg (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:36 AM

28. Somebody needs to free her hair.

terrible pink dye job.....

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:30 PM

11. Yeah because it went viral on the internet and everyone could see what a jerk the judge was.

Sad thing is typical to give people harsher sentences simply for "disrespecting authority", even though the authority is actually a joke that should be laughed at.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #11)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:32 PM

12. What?

Is this sarcasm?

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Response to oberliner (Reply #12)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:48 PM

15. Not really.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #15)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:49 PM

18. OK

I don't think it went viral because of the judge being rude.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #18)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:55 PM

19. ..

It probably went viral because people thought it was funny.

I don't think really the judge was rude. The girl was rude. The judge was a fucking asshole with an over-exaggerated sense of his own self importance.

And once the whole world saw it on the internet, then he called her back in and gave her a chance to apologize for a lesser punishment.

A case of sunlight being the best disinfectant in my opinion.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:33 PM

13. Well that was easy

Apologies go a long way apparently.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:41 PM

14. Sometimes an apology goes a long way...

I'm glad she'll get help with her addiction which will also include charges being dropped and that will help her later on down the road. Seems to be a win all the way around for Ms. Soto.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:36 PM

17. She did look and sound pretty loopy

No wonder the judge asked her if she was on anything.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:16 AM

24. good for her, and it looks like the judge taught her a vaulable lesson

 

She might owe this judge more than she could know right now. Maybe this will be a turning point for her and a wake-up call.
This judge has my utmost respect.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 11:34 AM

30. A great way for it to play out. n/t

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