Lighter, News, Technology

Judge Finds Himself In Contempt Of Court

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A judge's gavel. Image: Chris Potter.
A judge’s gavel. Image: Chris Potter.

A judge in Michigan did something very unusual last week. He charged himself with “contempt of court” and gave himself a fine of $25.

People can get charged with contempt when they do something during a trial that the judge believes shows disrespect to the court.

So when judge Raymond Voet’s cell phone went off during a trial on April 13, he declared himself to be in contempt. Then he had to pay his own court $25.

It happened during a speech that was being given by one of the lawyers. The judge’s phone started “talking,” loudly speaking some voice commands. It said, “I can’t understand you. Say something like ‘mom’,” the judge told the Ionia Sentinel-Standard newspaper. He said his face got red as a beet from embarrassment.

Voet said he had recently gotten a new phone with a touchscreen; the phone was in his shirt pocket. He thinks he may have accidentally bumped it, which turned on its voice activation–a feature the judge told MLive.com he didn’t even know it had.

Voet says he has taken many people’s phones away from them when similar things happened to them. He has taken phones from police officers, lawyers and even people sitting in the stands watching a trial.

He feels strongly that cell phones are a serious distraction in the courtroom—even his own cell phone.

The judge didn’t want to be a hypocrite (someone who says one thing, but does something different) so he found himself to be in contempt.

The judge made a statement, the Sentinel-Standard reported:

“If I cannot live by the rules that I enforce, then I have no business enforcing these rules.”

The judge has already paid the fine.

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The facts for this story were taken from an article in The National Post newspaper. The story was originally reported by Ionia’s Sentinel-Standard (the judge works in Ionia County in Michigan) and MLive.com, a TV news website in Michigan.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
In an interview, the judge stated, “If I cannot live by the rules that I enforce, then I have no business enforcing these rules.” What do you think he means by this?

Do you think he made the right decision? Why or why not?

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
Here are two sayings:

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

“You’ve got to walk the talk.”

What do they mean and how do they apply to this story?

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading:1.6 ).

Grammar Feature: Simile
When the judge’s phone started speaking, “his face got red as a beet from embarrassment.” His face didn’t turn into a beet but it became very red. This part of speech is a simile.

A simile is a comparison between two things using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’. In this instance, the simile compares the colour of the judge’s face with a beet using the word ‘as.’

Think of a simile to complete the following sentences:
1. The boy was as happy as __________________.
2. The storm was like a _______________.
3. The movie was as long as _______________________.
4. His homework felt as difficult as ______________________.
5. Her cat was like ________________________.