Can You Hear Me Now?

On Nov. 27, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended the removal of Judge Robert M. Restaino of Niagara Falls, N.Y., after his 2005 cell-phone inspired rant, which the Commission chair called “two hours of inexplicable madness.” While presiding over the weekly progress evaluations for 46 defendants, Judge Restaino was disturbed by the noise of a cell phone ringing in the courtroom. According to witnesses, Restaino snapped, demanding the phone’s owner to reveal himself. When no one took responsibility, Restaino ordered that all 46 people present in the courtroom be thrown in jail. The Commission said that Restaino behaved like a “petty tyrant,” and that his actions were completely unlawful. The one dissenting commissioner, Raoul L. Felder, argued that Judge Restaino had never shown any signs of bad behavior in the past and should be shown lenience. In 2006, the Niagara Falls City Court ruled in favor of the Judge, deciding that he enjoyed judicial immunity even for flagrant misconduct.

Apparently Judge Restaino isn’t the only one being set off by cellphones. To read more about a growing epidemic of “cell phone rage,” click here.

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