Nutty Judge of the Week
It's common to see signs on courtroom doors instructing those who enter to shut off their cell phones. Often those signs are accompanied by a warning: if your cell phone rings audibly, it will be confiscated. (The judicial authority to steal an offending cell phone is unclear, but who wants to fight that battle?)
Fortunately, it isn't common for a judge to arrest everyone in the courtroom when nobody will admit ownership of a ringing phone.
[Robert] Restaino, who became a full-time judge in 2002 after serving part-time since 1996, was hearing domestic violence cases when a phone rang. "Everyone is going to jail," the judge said. "Every single person is gong to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now. If anybody believes I'm kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going."
When no one came forward, the judge ordered the group into custody and they were taken by police to the city jail, where they were searched and packed into crowded cells. Fourteen people who could not post bail were shackled and bused to the Niagara County Jail in Lockport, a 30-minute drive away.
A judge who thinks mass jailings are the best way to respond to his own irritation -- without probable cause or even an individualized suspicion that each of the 46 detainees had done something wrong -- deserves to lose his job. Thankfully, Restaino lost his.
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