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T-shirt message gets contempt citation

UPI News Service, 05/22/2010 

A young Illinois woman cited for contempt for wearing an allegedly obscene T-shirt in a courtroom says she will wear a business suit to her court appearance.

"I'm going to be dressed up -- I'm not going to wear anything offensive," Jennifer LaPenta told the Lake County News-Sun on Friday.

LaPenta, 20, of Round Lake Park said she was not trying to make any kind of statement with the shirt. She said she was working out May 3 when a friend asked her for a ride to court.

The shirt read: "I have the (female sexual organ), so I make the rules."

When she spotted the shirt, Circuit Court Associate Judge Helen Rozenberg immediately ordered LaPenta taken into custody.

Peter Kalagis, LaPenta's lawyer, said he plans to argue she has a First Amendment right to make statements via T-shirt. He will also point out that none of the sheriff's deputies or other court workers who saw her before the judge did warned her about the T-shirt and Rozenberg ignored her offer to leave.

LaPenta is considering a lawsuit, Kalagis said, but is not interested in money.

"I'm just looking to get it off my record," she said.

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