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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ind. Courts - "Judge rings up 3 cell phone owners on contempt charges "

"Judge rings up 3 cell phone owners on contempt charges" is the headline to a story today by Ruth Ann Krause in the Gary Post-Tribune:

CROWN POINT — Ringing cell phones in court Wednesday were annoying to Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell, who found three people in contempt.

Cynthia Cannon of Gary, whose phone rang twice while Boswell was conducting hearings, initially was ordered out of the courtroom, then was told to take a seat in a row of chairs along the wall where defendants and defense attorneys sit.

When the morning court call begins, bailiffs in Boswell’s court tell visitors they must turn off their cell phones. There also is a sign outside the courtroom indicating cell phones aren’t allowed.

Verdell Berry Jr. was turning off his cell phone when it beeped. An irritated Boswell told Berry, Shonique Freeman of Gary, Mark Suller of Hammond and Aaron Hindson of Merrillville to sit next to Cannon.

Berry said he was trying to turn off his phone and it made a noise.

Freeman, who was with Berry, didn’t tell Boswell it was Berry’s phone that made the noise.

“The next time the court asks you a question, answer it,” Boswell said.

Berry and Freeman were told to perform 40 hours of community service.

Suller and Hindson were off the hook after they showed the bailiff their phones had been turned off.

Cannon was given the option of community service, one day in the Lake County Jail, or a $100 fine. Cannon said she is disabled and can’t sit for long periods of time, so she opted for the fine.

All three people can appeal their sentence within 30 days.

The Munster (NW Indiana) Times also has story, by Ruthann Robinson:
CROWN POINT | When the third cell phone rang in her courtroom Wednesday, Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell had enough.

Boswell stopped court and asked the offender to fess up.

No one did.

So she ordered the entire row the sound came from to stand up.

Still no one squealed.

Boswell told all five people in that row to come forward and sit in chairs reserved for offenders.

There they sat, waiting an hour for morning court call to end.

Boswell found in contempt of court three of the five people who she determined had thumbed their noses at the court's authority.

Cynthia Cannon admitted her phone was one of the ones that went off. The judge ordered her to do community service.

"I can't work. I'm on disability," Cannon, of Gary, said.

Boswell assured Cannon she wouldn't be doing hard labor -- possibly something like checking in books at a library.

"I can't sit for very long. I've got a bad back," Cannon said.

"Well, I could put you in jail for a day and you could sit there," Boswell said. "Or I could fine you $100."

Cannon opted for the fine.

Verdell Berry Jr., of Merrillville, said he had two phones. One was off, the other he turned off when Boswell warned the gallery all cell phones must be off. The sound of it powering down is what she heard, Berry said.

He admitted he didn't speak up to explain that when Boswell first asked.

Shonique Freeman, of Gary, said she knew it was Berry's phone, but she didn't offer the information, either.

Boswell ordered both Berry and Freeman to serve 40 hours of community service.

"The next time you come to court, don't bring your cell phone," Boswell said. "And when the court asks a question, answer the question."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 24, 2006 08:16 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts