Singing Loudly: Cellphones in the Courtroom

Singing Loudly

Monday, November 29, 2004

Cellphones in the Courtroom

Engadget alerts me that in England a judge ordered six months in prison to an observer of a trial who was taking photographs with his camera phone. I know that you're thinking, well, that's over in England. However, in Long Island, NY a defendant was held in contempt of court and sentenced to 21 days in prison when her cell phone rang during a hearing.

The lesson to be learned? If you're an observer or a defendant, shut off your fucking cell phone when you enter a courtroom and certainly don't take any photos with it.

I know from working down at the criminal court that having your phone when you're an attorney is necessary. When you're running around to the different court rooms to do announcements, pleas, and maybe jail chains it's good to have your phone on you. There are, however, some rules of thumb that should be followed:

1. Keep your phone on vibrate if you're not in trial.
2. If you're in trial put the phone on silent and check it during breaks
3. If an important call is coming in...go out of the courtroom before you answer it
4. Keep the volume turned down so that your conversations stay private
5. If you're currently with a client you can answer the cellphone if you say excuse me, and then ask the person calling if you can call back (if it's going to be a lengthy conversation)
6. If you are observing a trial turn your phone completely off. The vibrate can be heard by others
7. Know the temperament of the particular Judges so that you can best mold these suggestions.


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