Governments' Lighter Side

Judge holds himself in contempt after cellphone mishap

IONIA, Mich. – Authorities tell you to turn off your cell phone when entering a courtroom.

Apparently, this goes for judges as well.

Michigan judge Raymond Voet surprised spectators recently by holding himself in contempt of court, according to Associated Press reports. Voet's crime? His new smartphone went off in court, thus causing a disruption. The contempt charge carries a $25 fine. Which Voet ordered himself to pay.

Voet has a posted policy at Ionia County 64A District Court stating that the owners of electronic devices that cause a disturbance during court sessions will be cited for contempt and fined. Voet apparently does not feel he is above this law.

“Judges are humans,” Voet told the AP, “They’re not above the rules. I broke the rule and I have to live by it.”

Voet, who recently exchanged his Blackberry for a touch screen, Windows-based phone, thinks he must have jostled the phone during a prosecutor’s closing arguments Friday afternoon.

“I’m guessing I bumped into it. It started talking really loud, saying, ‘I can’t understand you. Say something like Mom,’” the AP reported.

Over the years, Voet has taken phones away from police officers, attorneys, witnesses and spectators alike. “The courtroom is a special place,” he said in the report, “It needs more respect than that.”

During a break in the trial Voet held himself in contempt, fined himself and paid that fine.
If only Voet could preside over the nation’s movie theaters.



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What's Governments' Lighter Side?

It is an irreverent take on local and state government news.


Derek Prall

Derek Prall is a professional journalist who has held numerous positions with a variety of print and online publications including The Public Manager magazine and the New Jersey Herald. He is a 2008...
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