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Judge Suspended After Snapping on Courtroom

By KJ Mullins     Nov 28, 2007 in Crime
U.S. Judge Robert Restaino has been removed from the bench after an incident when he jailed an entire courtroom. Restaino was presiding over a case of domestic violence in Niagara Falls, NY, when a cell phone rang out in the courtroom.
Something snapped within the judge with that ringing phone. He demanded to know whose phone it was. No one would admit to ownership.
The case where the 48-year-old judge went unglued took place on March 11, 2005. The judge was removed from the bench Nov. 27 of this year for "putting an entire courtroom audience after none of them admitted being responsible for a ringing phone," BBC reports.
The judge has 30 days to appeal the decision of the commission.
According to the BBC, in 2005 the judge said:"Every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now," he told the courtroom's audience, according to the commission. If anybody believes I'm kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going."
Security officers tried to find the phone but they failed. After a short recess the judge asked again where the cell phone was. When no one would come forward he sent each of the 46 people that were in the courtroom audience to be taken into custody with bail set at $1,500.
As BBC reports:"This person, whoever he or she may be, doesn't have a whole lot of concern. Let's see how much concern they have when they are sitting in the back there with all the rest of you," he added.
"Ultimately, when you go back there to be booked, you've got to surrender what you got on you. One way or another, we're going to get our hands on something."
Someone told the judge that it wasn't fair for those who weren't in the wrong and the judge agreed with him.
The audience and defendants were taken to the Niagara City jail and processed. After they were searched they were packed like sardines in the crowded city cells. Fourteen of those people couldn't make bail so they were shackled and delivered to another prison. In the afternoon when reporters started hounding the judge he ordered their release.
The judge admitted to the commission that he had no legal basis for his actions and that it was "improper and inexcusable". The commission has found that his actions "deliberately and methodically violated" the rights of the 46 people who were held.
While his appeal process is ongoing the judge will remain in office.
A side note about cell phones and the courtroom in Niagara Falls:Security Measures prohibit the following in the Courthouse and facilities: Firearms, Knives, Scissors, Pepper Spray, and all devices with the ability to record audio, still images, or video (e.g. cell phones).Court Officers will confiscate them. They must be vouchered until the conclusion of the owner's court business.
More about Judge robert restaino, Cell phones, Niagara falls