Cellphone in court lands man in jail

One young man learned the hard way that having his cellphone on in court was not a good idea.

Randy Dale Connor, 24, spent Tuesday night in custody after a series of incidents that day in the Summary Court in which Magistrate Valdis Foldats sat.

“I have to maintain order in the courtroom,” he told Connor.

Before the start of court each day, marshals typically tell everyone in the public gallery to turn off cellphones or put them on silent.

On Tuesday morning, a cellphone began ringing and the marshal warned against cellphones in court.

A few minutes later, a cellphone went off again. Connor, who had been sitting in a back corner of the courtroom, was told to stand. The magistrate pointed out that people in the gallery had been told not to use their cellphones in court, but he had seen Connor using his thumbs. He added that the phone could be confiscated because of the disturbance.

Connor apologized.

A few minutes later, Connor was seen to stand up and walk across the front of the gallery seating area to the door, holding his phone to his ear and talking.

The marshal called out, “Sir, you cannot talk on a phone in court!”

The magistrate told him to stop, but he did not. The magistrate again called out, “Stop!” When Connor kept going out the door, the magistrate ordered him arrested, but Connor was gone. The magistrate issued a warrant for his arrest.

When court resumed after lunch, Connor was present. He said he had received a call from the court about the warrant. Connor told the magistrate someone else’s phone went off first. He denied using his phone. When the magistrate said he had seen Connor texting, Connor replied that he wasn’t using it, he was rubbing it, cleaning it. He said he never heard the magistrate tell him to stop.

The magistrate said, “I actually was raising my voice. I told you to stop. Everybody heard me.”

He said the incident had been very disruptive, and Connor’s conduct was contempt of court. The magistrate said he had the power to put someone in prison for 30 days for such an offense. In this case, the magistrate had intended to order a sentence of seven days. But Connor had come back to court and apologized and had advised the court that he had an appointment the next morning with a probation officer. The magistrate imposed a sentence of one day.