« Vacancy on COA 2012 - Round One, Interview #6 | Main | Vacancy on COA 2012 - Round One, Interview #7 »

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ind. Courts - "Reporter Found In Contempt For Texting: Judge Gull Orders Phone Destroyed"

Rebecca S. Green reports in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

FORT WAYNE – The news director for a local radio station was found in contempt of court Tuesday after he was found using a cellphone during the guilty plea hearing for admitted killer Michael Plumadore.

According to testimony Tuesday by Allen County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Brian Sandberg, Dave Wheaton, news director of WOWO 1190 AM, had an Apple iPhone in his hand during the hearing Friday before Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck.

Sandberg said he and another officer saw Wheaton texting during the hearing. Sandberg confiscated the phone and issued Wheaton a ticket, ordering him to appear before Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull.

Cellphones and other electronic devices have been prohibited in the Allen County Courthouse and its satellite buildings since 2007. The ruling came after cellphone cameras were used to take pictures and videos of witnesses and jurors in a murder case.

Attorneys and court staff are exempt from the ruling if they have proper identification. Members of the media are included in the ban.

Under oath, Wheaton said he did not notice the multiple signs placed around the Courthouse announcing the ban.

He said he brought the phone in along with his recording equipment and had done so the few other times he’d been in the building.

“Candidly, I don’t believe you,” Gull said of Wheaton’s claims he did not see the signs.

Gull found Wheaton in contempt of court and ordered the phone destroyed. The phone is the property of WOWO’s parent company, Federated Media, and Gull allowed the company to remove the contents of the phone first.

She also said she was sending a copy of the ruling to the radio station as a reminder.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 16, 2012 11:11 AM
Posted to Ind. Trial Ct. Decisions