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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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