A MAN who was sentenced to two months imprisonment for yawning outside the courtroom successfully appealed against his sentence in the Fiji Court of Appeal.
Herbert Wise was jailed for two months by the trial magistrate on April 7, 2010 for one count of contempt of court because he was lying on a bench on the terrace and yawning.
Judge justice Daniel Goundar said in his judgement that the natural act of yawning could not constitute a misconduct offensive to the court.
The court heard that Wise was outside the court room when he yawned once.
When the presiding magistrate heard the yawn, she directed the court orderly to bring order in the court.
When Wise was approached to be silent, he apologised for his conduct.
But the magistrate did not let the matter rest and directed Wise to remove his sunglass and sit inside the court.
She then later ordered Wise to be locked in the cell.
Justice Goundar said the validity of the presiding magistrate's direction was questionable.
He said Wise was not a party to any litigation before the court.
"What legal authority do the courts have to direct members of the public who are outside the courtroom to remove their sunglasses and to sit inside the court especially when they are not party to the proceedings before the court," Justice Goundar asked.
He said if Wise had committed an act of contempt in the plain view of the presiding magistrate, she did not have the power to summarily punish him by incarcerating him.