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Judge's Cell Phone Policy Puts Him in Contempt of His Own Court

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By William Peacock, Esq. on April 15, 2013 12:42 PM

The effects of BlackBerry's decline are being felt beyond the company-formerly-known-as-RIM's offices, beyond the shareholders' wallets, and beyond the frustrated fingers of those loyal to the company's ubiquitous QWERTY keyboards.

Judge Raymond Voet was in the midst of listening to a prosecutor's closing arguments when his new Microsoft Windows Phone began speaking to him a sultry, seductive voice:

"I can't understand you. Say something like Mom."

Courthouses across the nation have varying policies regarding electronic devices. In Roanoke, Virginia, phones aren't even allowed in the lobby. (No exceptions, not even for the judge's intern). In Santa Clara and Freemont, California, the rule is that lawyers can have their devices handy, but clients and the public cannot.

There are no such exceptions in Ionia County 64A District Court. The policy is that a buzzing or ringing phone will lead to a contempt of court citation. What does a judge do when his unfamiliarity with his new phone causes the disturbance?

"That's an excuse, but I don't take those excuses from anyone else. I set the bar high, because cellphones are a distraction and there is very serious business going on," he said. "The courtroom is a special place in the community, and it needs more respect than that."

The judicious judge waited until the break, held himself in contempt, and cited himself $25, reports the Associated Press.

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Well played, your honor. Lets see anyone whine about the fairness of the policy now that you've cited yourself. Also, on a side note - Windows Phone? Really? Blackberry just released two new phones - including a QWERTY device. And lawyers apparently prefer iPhones by a massive margin. You may want to revisit that choice - though beware: Siri is way more powerful than Windows' voice assistant.

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