Miami judge keeps going viral over Dolphins’ jersey shoplifter
Judge Diane Ward is viral-video famous — again.
A few days ago, rapper Snoop Dogg re-posted on his Instagram an infamous court video of the longtime Miami judge. The case: A man wearing a Dolphins jersey was accused of shoplifting, yes, a Dolphins jersey.
The video, by the way, is seven years old.
Still, the texts from starstruck friends poured in over the Labor Day holiday weekend. On Sunday, Ward was in Dallas to watch the University of Miami’s big football game against Louisiana State. People at the stadium flocked to show her Snoop Dogg’s post.
For Ward, it was as normal as a Dolphins 8-8 season. Every year or so, the video flares up in the internet’s insatiable cycle of memes.
“I’ve done stuff that I consider very important as a judge,” Ward joked Tuesday. “But this is what is going to be in my obituary.”
Here’s the video’s back story.
In Florida, video cameras are allowed in criminal court. Footage from Miami’s bond court — where defendants make their first appearances after an arrest — provides constant content for TV stations hungry for Florida Man stories. Bond-court video has provided clips of defendants flipping off the judge, punching other inmates and even twerking.
Back in 2011, Miami-Dade circuit judges were assigned to cover bond court periodically.
Ward, a judge since 2002, was covering that day when Nelson Walker appeared via closed-circuit television from a Miami jail. He wore the jersey of Davone Bess, a former Dolphins wide receiver.
“All right, you’re charged with,” Ward said, pausing incredulously, looking at Walker’s outfit through the monitor, “stealing a Dolphins’ jersey?”
Walker, police said, shoplifted jerseys and hats from the apparel store at Dolphins’ stadium.
The judge asked him turn around and show the back of the jersey. The player: No. 15, then-Dolphins wide receiver Davone Bess.
“Is he a new player? Is he still with the Dolphins? Looks like a new jersey to me,” Ward said.
Walker, grinning, pinched the front of the jersey. “This ain’t the one, your honor!”
Weeks later, Miami-Dade prosecutors later declined to press charges against Walker.
The story mushroomed anyway. The clip appeared on the local TV news, then Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night comedy show, the judge recalled. One show featured it as part of a roundup of the year’s dumbest criminals. Bess, who later became a client of Ward’s husband, who is a lawyer, even admitted he’d seen the clip.
On the internet, it has lived on. One YouTube version of the clip is entitled: “Dumb criminal steals Dolphins jersey and wears it to trial.” The clip posted by Snoop Dogg is a meme — punctuated with a clip of comedian Kevin Hart’s face scrunched up in disbelief.
“I’ve seen it so many times,” Ward said. “It really is pretty funny.”