The pat heard around the world

It was the “pat” heard around the world. Well, that may be exaggerating a little bit, but it certainly became newsworthy.

While standing before a judge in regards to a probation violation in a Florida courtroom, former NFL player and Dancing with the Stars contestant Chad Johnson, formerly known as Chad Ochocinco and Chad Johnson before that, decided to have a little fun with his attorney.

Broward County Circuit Judge Kathleen McHugh was debating whether Johnson should go to jail for the violation from an earlier offense or if she would accept Johnson’s plea deal of community service and counseling instead.

As you may recall, Johnson found himself in a whole lot of trouble last year when he was arrested for domestic battery on his then-wife Evelyn Lozada. During an argument, Johnson head-butted his wife prompting her to call the police for which he was subsequently arrested.

Avoiding jail time, Johnson was put on probation for 12 months and was required to spend 26 weeks in a battery intervention program.
During his court proceeding this past week, the judge seemed ready to accept Johnson’s plea deal in addition to adding three months to his probation. When the judge asked Johnson if he was satisfied with his attorney, Johnson promptly gave his lawyer a congratulatory pat on his posterior, causing laughter to break out in the courtroom.

Now, anyone who watches sports knows that this is how athletes say “good job.” It may seem odd or a strange way to exhibit your appreciation for someone else, but that’s just what guys, and some ladies, do in sports.

The judge was not laughing. Instead of just giving Johnson a verbal lashing, she decided to toss the plea deal aside and send Johnson to jail for 30 days. Her reasoning was that Johnson did not seem to take the proceedings seriously. In all fairness, Johnson could have been sentenced for up to 100 days due to his probation violation.

I do agree with the judge and her reasons for the ruling, while I am not sure that her decision was the right one. Sending Johnson to jail may have been a little too harsh. My feeling is that she wanted to make an example of Johnson, which is fine, but I am not sure if sending him to jail at taxpayers’ expense was the right move. But then again, I am not a judge.

I will give her credit though. I am glad she called him out on his behavior. Johnson was in a court of law because he BROKE the law and was being punished for it. I hardly think that is the time to display inappropriate behavior.

And let’s not forget what led him to the courtroom: domestic violence! The last thing you want to do in front of a judge when you are in court because of a domestic violence charge is to lay your hands on another person, whether in jest or otherwise.

As Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler say on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, “Really?”

Can you imagine if someone was in court on a weapons charge and they decided to go all Yosemite Sam on the judge and point a fake gun (using their fingers, of course) at them as a joke?

A court of law is not the place to practice your stand-up routine. Because of tabloid magazines, entertainment news shows and other forms of media, anything and everything is one big joke, and to me, THAT is not funny. It sets the wrong example and lowers our standards and expectations.

Why is losing our maturity, professionalism and respect for others such a popular fad these days? Makes you wonder how different things would be in today’s world if people cared a little bit more about how they presented themselves, how they were perceived by others and how they treated one another.

Mark McGlothlen was born and raised in Constantine but spent much of his time in Three Rivers; his family has deep roots in Three Rivers.  He can be reached at

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