James Crumbley’s phone privileges restricted over ‘threatening statements’

Posted at 12:17 PM, March 8, 2024

PONTIAC, Mich. (Court TV) — A judge signed an order to limit the phone and electronic messages of defendant James Crumbley, the father of the Oxford High School shooter, until a verdict is reached in his trial.

Crumbley, who has been jailed at the Oakland County Jail since Dec. 4, 2021, was said to have been making “threatening statements” on the phone and in electronic messages, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

James Crumbley speaks to his lawyer in court

James Crumbley responds to proposed order to revoke full phone and electronic messaging access during his trial. (Court TV)

The issue was ambiguously raised near the end of the first day of Crumbley’s involuntary manslaughter trial after the jury was dismissed for the day.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor David Williams addressed the court about an oral argument he wished to make, to which defense attorney Mariell Lehman quickly objected, arguing that it should not be heard during the trial, especially in front of the media.

The judge, Hon. Cheryl Matthews, explained the difficult position she was put in by having to hold a public courtroom and not wanting to impair the defendant’s rights.

In an apparent attempt to avoid openly discussing the issue, the prosecutor provided a written draft of the proposed order to both the defense and Judge Matthews.

Once Crumbley was handed the proposed order, he quickly read it and whispered loudly to his attorney while shaking his head, “No… No.”

After whispering back and forth to each other, the defense attorney informed the court that her client would not agree to the order. “It’s restricting him to speak to people,” Lehman said.

The prosecutor explained that the proposed order aims to limit his communications to counsel and clergy for the rest of the trial because of the conduct that led him here.

Hon. Judge Cheryl Matthews

Hon. Judge Cheryl Matthews signs an order on March 8, 2024, to limit James Crumbley’s communications to be with only his attorney and clergy during his involuntary manslaughter trial. (Court TV)

After speaking with Crumbley, Lehman informed the court that her client still disagreed with the order, to which the judge replied, “Does he know that in ten minutes, there is going to be an article about him?” Crumbley appears to get worked up over this, arguing in whispers with his attorney before asking to exit the courtroom with the protection for a short period to work on a resolution privately.

Upon return, the prosecutor informed the court that the order would revoke his communications during the trial but not limit his ability to research or participate in his defense by reading or getting information. The order will expire upon the verdict.

“It should go without saying, but I hope the court will encourage Mr. Crumbley about the conduct that got us here,” Williams said.

The judge and the defense clarified that the issue had already been addressed on multiple occasions with the defendant.

The sheriff’s office said Crumbley’s access to a phone or electronic messaging has now been “limited to communication with his lawyer.”

Court TV submitted a request to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office for Crumbley’s jail communications, which was denied.