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Honesty is best policy in court

Showing up drunk in Citrus County Court landed Edward Karaffa in trouble Tuesday. But honesty saved him from a contempt citation, and a possible jail sentence, from Judge Gary Graham. Karaffa, 34, of Crystal River, stood before the judge on a disorderly intoxication charge. As court officers shuffled paperwork and Karaffa gave a rambling explanation of his case, Graham took a closer look.

"You don't look straight to me," Graham said, according to a tape recording of the proceedings. The judge later said that Karaffa was "not exactly talking correctly" and his eyes were glazed over.

Karaffa replied: "Your Honor, I was drinking last night and the police roused me out of an abandoned house," according to the tape.

Karaffa later explained that he drank a six-pack of beer Tuesday morning before arriving at the afternoon court hearing. He said a friend drove him from Crystal River to the Old Courthouse in Inverness.

He wanted to resolve his case, but Graham decided to put off the matter until Nov. 13. "I can't accept a plea from someone who is intoxicated," he said.

In January, Graham held Kevin Cyrek in contempt for showing up in court drunk. The judge also has handed out contempt citations and jail terms to men who used obscenities or wore distasteful clothing to court.

Graham said he didn't slap Karaffa with a contempt citation because the man admitted he was intoxicated. But he warned him, "If you come to court again like this I will put you in jail for contempt."

Though he avoided a jail term, Karaffa did receive a strict talking to.

Karaffa complained that he is homeless and that Crystal River Police officers "do not want me in their town" and would arrest him on any charges.

The night he was arrested, Karaffa was accused of being drunk, disorderly and lying in front of JR Food Mart in Crystal River, an arrest affidavit says.

Graham told Karaffa to find a place to live, stay sober and keep out of trouble.