Popular Judge Interrupts Court Proceedings

Dennis Faas's picture

From what I've learned about the legal profession -- as it has been derived from Law and Order repeats and My Cousin Vinny -- being held in contempt of court is not a good thing. It generally means you've done something particularly heinous to upset a judge, like having your cell phone go off during proceedings. That sure would irk a judge -- especially if it was his own phone.

British judge Charles Byers was in mid-session this past week when -- to his chagrin -- a cell phone blurted its cacophony of rings and twings mid-session. As mentioned, in many cases this can completely bring a court proceeding, be it a cross-examination or closing argument, to a halt. That result often leads the guilty party into a cold, clammy jail cell and contempt of court. That's if you're a part of the trial; if you're in the public gallery, the court can legally snatch up your cell phone then and there. (Source: theinquirer.net)

In Judge Byers case, the red-faced adjudicator was forced to apologize to the courtroom, admitting he had absent-mindedly left the phone -- on, no less -- on his person as he sat there during proceedings. According to reports from across the pond, the incident aroused "a few titters," but not enough to prevent Byers, perhaps a little embarrassed, from slamming the defendant with a pair of life sentences for attempted murder and armed robbery. (Source: thesun.co.uk)

It's a bit funny that the larger issue here has nothing to do with violence and the case itself. Instead, the matter raising the most controversy is that surrounding Byers' cell and how it adds to a debate in Britain over the installation of phone jamming in public places as a legal practice. Churches have also been mentioned as prime possibilities if law like this is passed.

For someone whose cell phone once rang during his own MA defense, I can certainly appreciate Byers' embarassment. I wish someone had jammed my signal that day.

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