Judges and cell phones in court don’t mix

June 9, 2008
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   Judges have the right to control their courtrooms to maintain civility and safety, but throwing people in jail because of a ringing cell phone is extreme. That’s what Niagara Falls City Court Judge Robert Restaino did when no one claimed a beeping cell phone while he was hearing domestic violence cases. No one claimed it, so he jailed 46 people – everyone except the attorneys and court staff.  



 



On June 5, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct’s decision to remove him from the bench, calling his behavior “inexcusable.” The Court of Appeals decided an extreme punishment was needed for the judge’s extreme behavior. 



 Judges must not like ringing cell phones in their courtrooms.

A couple of years ago Lake County Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell fined a woman $100 after her cell phone rang during the morning court call and assigned community service to the other people sitting in the row where the cell phone rang for not fessing up right away when the judge questioned who owned the phone. Though not as extreme as the New York judge’s actions, Judge Boswell obviously wanted to make a point that ringing cell phones – and not claiming the phone quickly – won’t be tolerated. At least she didn’t throw anyone in jail.



 These kinds of incidents raise the question as to how much power a judge should have over his or her courtroom and when do the judge’s actions cross the line and become “inexcusable.” Ringing cell pones are annoying, but I’m just not sure they warrant jail time or even community service.
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  • On2-17-2010 my son went before a judge in medford oregon for driving without license got 10 days for ticket and 10 days for cell phone ring,same county couple busted 220 pounds of pot with value of 500.000 found guilty 30 days in jail. where is Justice in this he lost 3 weeks pay maybe job.

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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