It’s that moment every lawyer dreads. It’s a quiet court room, a lawyer is examining a witness, and then you hear it. A rogue cell phone. Someone forgot to turn off the ringer. As if the situation itself was not embarrassing enough. You know the judge is one of those that treats a cell phone in his courtroom as the equivalent of a dirty bomb. You hold your breath for a moment, wondering if you are guilty party. Luckily it’s not your phone, but the judge does let lose on the perpetrator and holds him in contempt. And so it goes.
Well, it happened recently in a Michigan courtroom, except it was the judge himself who was the offender. To the judge’s credit, he held himself in contempt.
According to an account at MLive, Judge Raymond Voet had recently purchased a new phone, and apparently, he didn’t lock it properly before court. He surmises that he bumped the screen, and it began asking him who he wanted to call. You know, the old “please say a command” prompt. This was, of course, in the middle of the prosecution’s closing argument.
To make matters worse, Judge Voet reportedly had trouble turning it off.
The judge is apparently known for being a real stickler about cellphones. In fact, he has signs posted outside his courtroom warning cellphone users that they face a $25 fine and could lose their electronic device if it does off during a hearing. He is even said to have taken phones from police officers and personal friends.
So what did the judge do about his own indiscretion? Apologize and move on? Consider becoming a little less strict on others? Nope. Judge Voet held himself in contempt and walked downstairs during a court recess to pay the same $25 fine he imposes on other offenders.