Judge jails courtroom audience .jpg

Judge jails courtroom audience

By: NATASHA SMITH

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A JUDGE in the US was suspended after he jailed an entire courtroom audience when nobody admitted to being the owner of a mobile phone that rang.

Judge Robert Restaino was presiding over a domestic violence case in the city of Niagara Falls in March, 2005, when the phone rang and he snapped. According to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the judge said: “Every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now”.

Security officers attempted to find the phone but failed and the frustrated judge ordered the 46 people in court to be arrested. He set bail at the equivalent of 1,000 euros but 14 people, who could not post bail, were later shackled and transported to another prison.

It was only later in the afternoon, when reporters began to ask questions about the ruling, that Judge Restaino ordered their release.

The Commission said he had acted “without any semblance of a lawful basis” and behaved like a “petty tyrant”. The judge has said he was under stress in his personal life at the time and he was given 30 days to appeal the decision.