Friday, August 25, 2006

A RINGING CRITICISM

I'm really of two minds on this, but the story's worth telling: According to AP, a state court judge in Indiana held three people in contempt of court and ordered community service for two of them. Their offense?

Ringing cellphones.

So why am I of two minds? Because on one hand I hate, and I mean hate, cellphones. I hate when people talk on them in public, I hate that I'm always reachable by family, employers, casual acquaintences. But mostly, I hate the ringing. Set 'em on vibrate people. Please.

But . . . as I said, there's another side to my opinion on this story. As a lawyer, who's occasionally been inside a courtroom, I'm well aware of the incredible deference afforded the men & women in robes who rule the inside of a courtroom: standing when they enter & exit; their prerogative to interrupt lawyers & witnesses whenever they choose; the finality of their decisions; and, of course, the absurd convention of referring to them as "Your Honor," or "The Court."

The Court! Some judges actually use "We" in opinions.

(And I'm talking about one judge opinions.)

We live in the United States. No aristocrats. No genuflection to "Title." Yet a judge rules the court like a king or queen. Inside that court, we are subjects. Believe me. I've never actually conducted a trial, but I've "appeared" in court, and loath though I am to admit it, I've used my share of "May it please the Court . . . ," or "With all due respect to Your Honor, I'd like to offer an alternative reading . . . ," and all that blah, blah, blah.

But, you know what? Since I'm the judge here, my cellphone issues are gonna take the day. And whether or not one sees the judge as Sovereign Of The Court, it's just disrespectful to everyone letting a cellphone ring in a place where others are focusing on what's going on: the movies, a conference, a restaurant.

And letting the phone ring -- three times in this case -- is truly "contempt" of court.

2 Comments:

Blogger DED said...

You'll "love" this. I heard that MTV has a new category for their annual awards: Best Ringtone.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

That's it. I'm outta here.

Pluto here I come.

4:56 PM  

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