Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Judge With Disruptive Cell Phone Finds Himself in Contempt

a smartphone

A similar not-so-smart phone

A judge in Ionia, Michigan, surpised the court and compelled himself to do the right thing after his cell phone disrupted court proceedings in his courtroom — he fined himself.

On April 12, 2013, Judge Raymond Voet violated his own posted policy of finding in contempt of court the owners of electronic devices that cause disturbances in his courtroom. Last week, however, Voet was the one with the new smartphone that began talking in court and requesting voice commands.

Like everyone else, he had excuses, “I’m guessing I bumped it. It started talking really loud, saying ‘I can’t understand you. Say something like Mom.’” He went on to explain to AP that he has a new Windows phone with a touchscreen that is a big change from his old Blackberry.

Being a judge, however, he’d heard it all and threw out his own excuses, “That’s an excuse, but I don’t take those excuses from anyone else.”

It seems that over years Voet has confiscated cell phones not only from witnesses and trial spectators, but from police officers, attorneys and friends of his own as well. This is porbably what led him to the inevitable conclusion that his annoying cell phone disruption could not go unpunished, “Judges are humans, they’re not above the rules. I broke the rule and I have to live by it.”

Voet held himself in contempt, fined himself $25 and paid the fine.

It is unclear whether he confiscated his own cell phone or not.

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